Today, customers confront companies with increasing demands on the customer experience in digital dialogue marketing. They expect the desired information to be available anytime and anywhere, in line with their current needs. Customers are familiar with best-in-class approaches to customer experience and all providers are measured against these. An essential component of these best-in-class approaches is individuality, i.e. communication that automatically provides the customer with exactly the information they need at exactly the time they need it. According to a study by IBM and eConsultancy, only 20 percent of customers feel that they are perceived as individuals in the context of customer experience. The reason for this: marketing communication, in particular, has so far mostly been conducted from an internal perspective. Marketers ask themselves: „What do I want to sell today?“
But instead they should ask themselves: „What do our customers need in their various usage contexts and what do we need to do to be able to respond to their needs in realtime?”
With this paradigm shift, marketers are really putting the customer at the center of their efforts. The customer experience becomes customer-centric and realtime: realtime customer centricity.

Flexible touchpoint networks instead of classic customer journeys

However, realtime customer centricity brings with it a number of challenges. One of the challenges is to really think the customer journey from the customer‘s point of view. „Which path does my customer take from first contact with my offer or brand to conversion?“ To answer this question, marketers typically create customer journeys from a series of touch points that trace the customer‘s path. These „classic“ customer journeys are usually very linear and sequential. They are not conceived from the customer‘s perspective, but from that of the marketer. When modeling a customer journey, marketers usually ask themselves: „Which touchpoints do we have and how do we want to guide the customer along them?“ In the worst case, they compulsively try to force the customer into a path they don‘t even want to take. Instead, marketers should ask themselves: „At which touchpoints does the customer come into contact with us and what does he expect there?” Then the customer journeys become more complex, non-linear and lead the customer past a multitude of touchpoints. Even past those that cannot be controlled by marketers or other areas in their company. Customers jump between touchpoints that are not sequentially linked in „classic“ customer journeys. They have an individual „touchpoint mix“ that resembles more a flexible, i.e. regularly changing, network rather than a linear path.
The paradigm shift towards customer centricity does not eliminate the „classic“ sequential customer journeys. But they are becoming shorter, more modular and focus more on clearly defined use cases. The path from visiting a car dealership to arranging a test drive is easier to model and control than the complete path from the desire for a new car to the purchase of the car. Long customer journeys are broken up and broken down into smaller customer journeys. An essential part of these smaller customer journeys are connection points to other customer journeys or touchpoints which can be part of several of these smaller customer journeys.

Think of the contexts as touchpoints

When building a touchpoint network, it is important to consider contexts as potential touchpoints. Such contexts can be:

  • It‘s after-hours and it‘s raining. The customer walks past your store.
  • The customer is on the road and is passing the time with his smartphone. The content they consume inspires them.
  • A sales manager sits at their workplace and researches from their desktop PC how they can make processes more efficient.

The question that marketers should ask themselves here is: „In what usage contexts is my customer, what information is relevant to them there and how can I make this information available to them?
The channel through which the customer receives this information is less crucial. What is more important is the relevance of the information and the speed with which the customer receives it.

Use contexts as triggers in realtime

Customers expect relevant information at the right moment. For example, if a customer walks past a fashion store, they must receive the voucher for their favorite brands within a few seconds and not just when they have already turned the next corner. In order to realize such communication, all processes involved must be realtime capable: the recognition of the context, the triggering of the communication, the processing of the necessary data, the creation of the content, the dispatch of the message via the preferred channel, etc. This also means that modern marketing technology must be able to capture and process live data, i.e. data that is only known at the moment of the trigger, in seconds or even milliseconds. Until now, the focus has mostly been on processing and analyzing historical data, such as purchasing histories, from which product recommendations were derived.
It is not only important to react quickly to triggers in usage contexts, but also to be able to dynamically adapt content to contexts. For example, if a customer opens a retailer‘s newsletter on their smartphone on the train on the way to work in the morning, low-involvement offers are played out. However, if they open the same newsletter in the evening with a tablet on the couch, they are more likely to be offered high involvement offers, as they now have time and leisure to deal with it. The newsletter is already sent, but the content changes after opening, depending on the current context.