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How to Bring the Customer Journey to Life

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Between discovery and purchase, myriad touchpoints can be found along the customer journey. Mapping these is an essential component to understanding how consumers interact with your brand, and technology can make these interactions all the more real, writes, Scott Schoeneberger,  Managing Partner, Bluewater.

It wasn’t long ago that brands began to realize that consumers were in charge of their own customer journeys. Understanding this meant understanding every interaction (or barrier) consumers had with a brand. Thus, customer journey mapping became even more integral to the marketing process. In fact, nearly 90% of customer journey mapping practitioners say that the process positively affects their businesses.

But most mapping focuses on digital assets and online experiences — with the addition of maybe a mailer or phone call from the brand. The problem with this is that the map ends well before it should. What about the journey a customer takes when she’s physically with you? Whether in the store, at an event, or visiting a campus, many brands are missing out on opportunities to make an even bigger impact further down the funnel with real-world experiences.

What’s in Store?

If you can get a prospect into your physical space, you can have a more meaningful conversation. Mapping this journey is a great way to immerse prospects into your brand. For example, United Kingdom-based Tesco reportedly uses heat sensors to “track” shoppers and identify potential congestion points in its stores. This allows the chain to not only realign the in-store customer journey to provide a better shopping experience, but it also reroutes foot traffic to certain promotions.

This type of technology isn’t just something for big-box chains. Smaller businesses can take advantage of tools like the Aurora sensor, which creates geo-fenced audiences in order to measure customer traffic, visit duration, etc. And if you use this information to map the customer journey, you’re better able to meet customers’ needs while they’re shopping.

It also provides an opportunity to inject a little innovation and elevate the customer experience. Consider greeting visitors by name as they enter or taking guests through a brand story in an interactive and consistent way. When applied correctly, you can move customers quickly down the funnel as they visit your physical space.

How you choose to map the customer journey is entirely up to you, but the customer journey mapping process can be truly elevated with the following tools and technologies:

1. Augmented Reality: Overlaying video content on static physical objects can provide a powerful tool for storytelling. And with advances in technology, these objects can become interactive.

In an effort to drive more foot traffic to its apparel stores, Timberland partnered with Lemon&Orange to create a virtual fitting room. This served as a main window display, and as customers walked by, they couldn’t help but virtually try on clothes. In this way, Timberland bypassed other, smaller steps in the customer journey and went straight to sealing the deal.

2. Large-Format Interactive: From walls to floors to ceilings, almost any surface can now become an interactive display through laser-powered technology. Think of it as a larger-than-life storytelling vehicle.

We worked with cybersecurity firm, Carbon Black to create a large-format LED wall for a series of tradeshows for an interactive gaming experience. In it, attendees were asked to defend the network from bugs. The brand interaction was designed to not only improve customer engagement, but also to set the stage for further conversations about the firm’s services.

3. Guided Content: When trying to create a consistent story across multiple customer engagements, your content should do the heavy lifting. Using sensors to trigger a piece of the experience (or just timing out content so it plays in line with, say, a building tour) can make your messaging memorable.

When we helped World Vision deploy guided content for its Kisongo Trek experience, it offered visitors a glimpse into the facets of everyday life in Tanzania. Starting on a mock bus, the deployment takes you to a far-off village, where a civilian waits to guide you from display to display — and it’s all self-paced.

4. Internet of Things: Not really a tool or technology, IoT is more like a design philosophy that connects all the available tools and technology together in a more fluid customer experience. IoT even allows people to continue exploring a brand long after leaving an event.

For the U.S. Open Championship, we worked with Lexus to activate a space with a series of engagements: trophy photos, distance contests, putting challenges, etc. On their own, the activations were engaging. But connected, they elevated the entire experience. Participants received access to real-time scorecards, which were available post-event for sharing. Leaderboards drove a bit more participation and competition, and every touchpoint could be monitored for effectiveness.

Many brands focus so much on the data used for customer journey mapping that they neglect the other tools available to bring a customer journey to life. When you set out to map your customer journey, don’t forget about the real-world interactions your customers and prospects have with your brand.

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