Everyone knows that the customer journey has changed dramatically in the past few years. It used to be stable and predictable. Companies could plan the exact message they wanted to send with marketing campaigns and they used contact centres for post-sale questions or problems. The step-by-step process of a customer becoming aware of a product, purchasing it, and then asking questions could be drawn as a simple flowchart.

That’s all gone. The reason is that the way we all communicate has changed. The mobile Internet and social networks mean that everyone is now a publisher and everyone can go far beyond just their friends and family when asking for recommendations. This profound change in the way that customers interact with brands is redefining how companies need to plan their Customer Experience strategy.

But is this really important or urgent? The management consulting firm McKinsey believes that the situation is critical. Customer behaviour is changing so dramatically and so fast that all executives need to pay attention to the changing customer journey right now. McKinsey research has outlined four explicit reasons why this is so urgent:

  1. Customer expectations: customers expect more. Their expectations of your brand are going through the roof. They want multichannel service, self-service, 24/7 service. McKinsey also noted that contact centre advisors want more support from management so they can deliver to the levels expected of them. It’s an interesting dynamic because as customers expect more there is also internal pressure (on management) from contact centre teams who want to do their job well. The team at the frontline knows more about what customers want than the executive team – listen to them.
  2. Interest rates will remain low: companies can’t make any cash by leaving money in the bank so it remains a good time to invest in improving the business.
  3. Startups threaten incumbents: in many industries there is a wave of innovation that could entirely redefine the industry as we know it. Look at insurance and retail banking for an idea of how fast change is coming. Many traditional brands may pivot away from their established business model by emulating what startups are doing or just acquiring them.
  4. Price transparency: Customers are no longer automatically buying insurance from the company they used last year because it takes seconds to get a quote from dozens of companies. This transparency is affecting every industry, but especially retailers and subscription-based business models.

I believe that this research is right on the mark and timely. CX has been at the top of the boardroom agenda for several years now, but what McKinsey is saying is that several trends are aligning and may require you to rethink your entire business model. Customer expectations are changing and competition is becoming more intense. Thinking carefully about your customer journey is becoming far more important than just designing how to deliver great service – it may in fact be essential for the survival of your business. What do you think of these research findings? Leave a comment here or get in touch directly via LinkedIn.