A brand is, in essence, the sum of the customer experiences it provides–in-store or online. At the very core of CX is the customer journey, for which mapping has become critical to improving the experience.
Its implementation, however, never falls into the one-size-fits-all category, particularly in India.
Indeed, the Indian market is both complex and diverse. It comprises a huge middle class, a relatively large affluent class, and an economically disadvantaged class. With retail spending expected to double by 2025, according to the Indian Brand Equity Foundation, India has become a hot spot for global marketers. Brand choices abound, competition is fiercer than ever, and understanding the customer has never been more important.
Here’s how marketers catering to Indian consumers can make customer journey mapping work for them.
Understand Your Target Market
Customer journey requires a change in approach and actions to mean anything. “You need to be convinced about [journey mapping] and be willing to invest and work towards it,” said Rajesh Kumar, VP of audience & experiential marketing, SAP Asia, Pacific and Japan.
For Virginia Sharma, director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, a conscious marketing mind-shift is required. “It’s actually not funnel but vessel marketing,” she told CMO.com. Funnel marketing, Sharma explained, is intrinsically selfish because it’s not customer-centric—it’s me-centric. And that needs to change.
You also need to construct target personas for your business, Sharma added. “Sometimes marketers go after the most vocal or visible customers to understand their journey, but the best personas are the ones that your business wants to go after. In LinkedIn Talent Solutions, we have fixed personas, and we give them different names, like June the Juggler, who is an HR manager in a small-to-medium sized business who wears many hats.”
Understanding that job titles do not equal personas was significant for Sharma and LinkedIn.
“We realised each one was different,” she said. “Each persona could have different media habits and could prefer different content that would align with their cultural context.”
Understanding Your Core Customer
SAP’s Kumar took it a step further, arguing that these personas can become your brand advocates.
“It’s important to understand who your core buyer is, who your core persona is, and what their journey looks like,” he told CMO.com. “How do they go about finding information, buying, coming back to you, and ultimately becoming an advocate to others?”
From an execution perspective, that means more effort, research, and understanding the journey, Kumar added.
Identifying The Moment Of Truth
It’s a cluttered market out there; understanding the customer journey can be an important differentiator between you and the competition. Sevantika Bhandari, chief marketing officer at Dewan Housing Finance (DHFL), called it “following the customer to identify the moment of truth.”
“As your company gets bigger and has many departments, the experience of the customer gets disjointed at times,” Bhandari told CMO.com. “Most large organisations rely on technology because the customer is dealing with them through multiple touch points. While technology will never do the job of mapping the journey, it will make it easier to gather information.”
Identifying the most opportune area of impact is imperative, Bhandari added: “If you look at successful brands, they always have one signature experience. They don’t try to be everything to everyone.”
Utilising Sales Team Insights
Getting buy-in from sales is a must. LinkedIn’s Sharma said she appreciates how the sales team can glean the best insights.
“The sales team can do the best audit of your company, and from them you can learn what’s actually happening on the customer’s side,” she said. “They can tell if your primary research about the buyer is correct and whether those personas are correct.”
Successful journey mapping cannot be done without adequate resourcing, which Kumar suggested brands tackle with a different approach.
“You need to build new capabilities, whether through customer storytelling, forming a digital social channel, or providing a fresh online-experience perspective,” he said. “You can hire new talent to assist in making your messaging more impactful.”
Another way to effectively resource is by streamlining processes and roles. “A lot of people think of sales training as a separate budget, but it doesn’t have to be. Such a thought process needs to change,” Sharma concluded.