Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

From chaos to cohesion: The path to truly connected customer journeys

Explore strategies for crafting seamless customer journeys that resonate

Published: Nov 30, 2023 10:00:11 AM IST
Updated: Nov 30, 2023 10:20:21 AM IST

Ashish Sinha, Managing Director- Epsilon APAC & MEA

Consumers today are more than a little burnt out. There are too many channels, too many messages, and too many points of contact for there to be anything but noise between brands and consumers. As consumers ourselves we recognise this sentiment each time we add another sender to spam, or mute another Whatsapp marketer, or spend a frustrating half hour on the phone with support. This is often accompanied by a repetition of what's been explained before to an unempowered customer support person who wants to help, but usually can't.

This is not how any brand wants to come across to our customers, present or potential. Communication after all, is rarely about how much we communicate, but rather about how effectively we do it. A customer who is guided through their customer journey expertly is a happy customer! For me personally, as a consumer, that's been a rare experience. It doesn't have to be though.

Let's break it down. If the main goal is to build connected consumer journeys where each touchpoint builds meaningfully on the last message delivered, then we need to know our customers better, and design effective processes and systems around how (and when!) we communicate with them.

Breaking Silos

For starters, let's look at Data Access and Design.

Are customer acquisition and customer loyalty teams working off disconnected data sets? If so, that needs to change immediately. The data that serves these functions must be tailored to their needs but linked in a sequential way. These functions, after all, are themselves tailored to customer needs at specific points in their journeys. This means we need to break silos and find ways to streamline customer communications so that every customer-facing team can see what the last few brand interactions have been. This way, each message can build on the last, and misinformation can be minimized.

This also applies to custom ads that are being served up to customers via websites and social media. If I've already bought a brand's phone, sending me ads to buy another is hardly effective.

Remedying these data holes isn't as hard as one might think. Partnering with the right providers and platforms can help fill in the gaps and allow all the customer-facing teams to see customers as they are, not as they were 6 months ago, and definitely not as they could be.

Build Processes

Once the data is pristine, the next step is to align processes to keep it that way. Teams need to be trained on the contact protocol. As brands, we need to know when our customers are ready to talk to us, what messages would work best, and when we've said enough. Less is most definitely more in an informational space where customers are constantly being sold to, influenced, and nudged algorithmically. This applies not just to advertising and marketing messages but also direct contact with customers through support and service.

This is also where team cohesion matters most. When teams know who else is talking to their customers, and they understand the impact of their actions and communications on downstream processes, it is half the battle won. When we have team cohesion, no one has to deal with problems down the line, because each team is careful not to create any. What a wonderful world, right?

Fortunately, it's also a truly possible world. Especially when we recognise that behind all the tools and data and processes, the magic sauce is coming from flesh and blood humans. And the best part about people is that they are malleable and respond to incentives. For the C-suite, this translates into creating the right incentives.


Are we incentivising effort over results? If yes, we create workplaces that are more tolerant of poor or substandard outcomes. We're building wasted effort right into our processes. More effort equals more reward creates situations where sales people call the same customers over and over. Service staff do service recovery on customers who have zero complaints. So on, and so forth.

However, incentivising results over efforts isn't always the magic bullet either. It can create a workplace that is intolerant of mistakes, and therefore stuck in a 'safe' rut. How can we then use incentives to drive behaviors that make our processes and technology shine? The ideal approach lies somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Somewhere where both acquisition and retention teams are incentivised to collaborate better and drive more effective customer journeys.

That, in my opinion, is the secret sauce to achieving truly connected customer journeys, again and again.

The pages slugged ‘Brand Connect’ are equivalent to advertisements and are not written and produced by Forbes India journalists.