But doing so can mean many different things and so it is difficult to know what marketers are actually doing to optimize the customer journey and what obstacles they are facing.

To find out more, Econsultancy, in association with Magento, recently held moderated roundtable discussions in Bangkok with dozens of client-side marketers.  There, brand marketers told us about some of the challenges they face when optimizing the customer journey and what they are doing to over come them. Below are the key points and highlights from the discussions.

1) The corporate mindset is the biggest obstacle to optimizing the customer journey

The challenge

Participants agreed that mapping and optimizing the customer journey requires more cooperation between different departments within companies than just about anything else that they do.  Sales, operations, customer service and even finance are all needed to help marketers understand the whole path to purchase and what happens post-purchase.

Yet, attendees felt that many people within companies do not understand the importance of collaboration and neither do they seem to appreciate the importance of improving the customer journey

The solution

Delegates indicated that the best way to overcome this obstacle is to increase interdepartmental communication, and for that to happen management needs to support the marketer’s goal of mapping the customer journey.

Management then needs to communicate this goal and the associated objectives to everyone in the organisation and ‘clear the runway’ for marketers seeking access to information and customer data.

Furthermore, one suggested, management can support the initiative by creating collaborative environments and increase the value of cooperation through new KPIs or even bonuses.

2) Omnichannel / multi-layer distribution makes optimizing the customer journey very difficult

The challenge

While marketers agreed that convincing management to encourage collaboration within a firm was a worthwhile goal, they lamented that brands face a much bigger problem with their distribution network. Distributors often see the details of the customer journey as a competitive advantage and often are unwilling to share more than sales figures.

Additionally, many distributors are small businesses which still use offline channels for promotions as they don’t understand online media and, therefore, find it difficult to use.

The solution

Participants felt that brand marketers have a responsibility to educate retail marketers about consumer behaviour and the importance of understanding each customer touchpoint, including advertising, in-store visits, and ecommerce. With more information, attendees felt that distributors may be more likely to collaborate on communication and marketing strategies with the goal of creating a better experience for target customers across every channel.

Some marketers remained skeptical of this approach but agreed that management which refocused on internal collaboration would be better positioned to convince distributors that partnering in optimizing the customer journey was in everyone’s best interest.

3) The volume and variety of data make it difficult for marketers to truly understand the customer journey

The challenge

All attendees agreed that marketers are overwhelmed by data. They have customer contact data, website behavioural data, purchase data, and even post-purchase experience data.  Many were at a loss as to how to integrate the data into a single customer view, understand the whole customer journey and then use these insights to improve the overall customer experience.

The solution

Several participants said that the best approach to dealing with ‘the data deluge’ is to start by looking only at the customer pain points. These are touchpoints in the customer journey where consumers are struggling to accomplish what they are trying to achieve, be it discover new products, research details, purchase, pay, or take delivery of the products.

Once pain points are understood and, ideally, resolved, then marketers can look at ‘connecting the dots’ of the entire customer journey.

Through making customer problems a priority, marketers will change their organisation’s perspective from ‘product first’ to ‘customer first’ and understand better what their customers are trying to achieve. This will get the company started on the path to optimizing the customer journey and, ultimately, growing the business through focusing on satisfying the customer.

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank:

  • Nuttakorn Rattanachaisit, Founder & MD, Predictive,
  • Claire Ngamvilaidee, Digital Marketing Strategist, and
  • Bunphot Woradhambundit, Digital Marketing Consultant

for moderating the Bangkok roundtable discussions as well as the sponsor for the day, Magento.

We’d also like to thank all the marketers who made time in their busy schedule to discuss their challenges with optimizing the customer journey as well as providing insights and suggestions for how marketers may overcome the obstacles they face.

We hope to see you at all future Econsultancy events!