From an unknown prospect through to a happy customer – the role of data in the customer journey and possible implications for the organisation


We’ve discussed Customer journeys in previous blogs and articles and have examined why they are important in aligning organisations to deliver a consistent ‘on-brand’ experience throughout all interactions an individual (consumer, customer, prospect, influencer) may have with us through any touchpoint. We’ve also previously discussed how journeys can be developed. Data plays a fundamental role in identifying an individual’s specific journey.


Types of journey

Strategic; Focusing first at the high level from prospect to customer to advocate helps guide other journeys, processes, policies and organisational design.

Unknown Prospect

Process.  After a rapid analysis using the strategic journey above, rank the most important process journeys from the business (£) and customer’s (experience) perspectives.  This journey mapping process is covered in detail in other blogs but in summary, for each step in a journey, define:

  • How is the customer likely to be feeling going into this step (e.g. worried, rushed, excited)?
  • At the end of this step, what do we want customers to feel (or hear them say) (e.g. ‘they really understood my issue and seemed to care’)
  • Do we do it well now (customer research and feedback; data analysis)?
  • What have we got to do and how have we got to behave to deliver the desired experience (think about function, emotion and effort)?
  • What are the internal barriers to us being able to deliver this experience (e.g. people, policies, processes, data, IT)?
  • What is the opportunity to delight or dismay (to consider peak-end experiences)?
  • What is the commercial rationale for addressing this (efficiency, effectiveness, or both)
  • What are the key data triggers required to drive or manage the step?
  • What measures are required (by function) to ensure we deliver this step the way we want to?

Journeys, segmentation, personas and data

Segmentation enables the journeys to be relevant and personalised, to segments of a few or even one, even to individuals you don’t know.  Segmentation will depend on the circumstances and strategic goals of the organisation but the most common types of segmentation are given below.  Often, ‘big data’ analysis is required to identify segments.

  • Personas – used to personalise advertising and social posts to target relevant messages at unknown prospects that look like good customers
  • Value – treating high  / low value customer groups differently
  • Needs / attitude – treating those with different needs (complex vs simple) to a tailored way, and potentially pricing accordingly; different treatments depending on the customers attitudes and beliefs
  • Real time behavioural – identifying what someone is doing right now and responding to it
  • Cost – identifying high cost to service groups and treating them differently
  • Relationship stage  – those new to a relationship with you may be treated differently

Implications for Organisations – a new emerging challenge?

Our latest research confirms that organisational silos remain an issue even today, as individual functions tend to manage their own tasks and activities  – which may or may not be aligned with the desired ‘customer experience’!  Led strategically in the organisation, journey mapping helps align functions – their purpose, tasks, measures and the data they use.  However, there is another silo emerging which needs attention in large organisations.

Throughout the evolution of ‘customer management’ towards ‘audience engagement’, using data to target relevant messages and provide tailored services has been limited to known individuals often requiring them to identify themselves at the touchpoint.  This has led to the natural separation internally of Retention and Acquisition functions: The former including direct marketing and utilising customer databases and data analytics: The latter being the domain of advertisers, media and traditional market research and panel data.  The digital revolution provides the ability to identify and target individuals unknown to the organisation with highly personalised and relevant messages and service.  In some sectors (e.g. Consumer Product Groups), the pressures to build expensive, comprehensive single customer views is reduced as so much can be achieved without them.

In today’s world, customers increasingly buy from a repertoire of suppliers and ‘customers’ are often both customers and prospects.  Does it make sense to manage these two ‘states’ for the same individual completely differently?  If an existing customer is looking at competitive content on a third party website I may want to target her.  Separating acquisition and retention will get in the way of understanding how customers think and behave within our and wider channels and media.

We suggest that the organisation of the future will no longer separate acquisition and retention (both functions or principles) or direct marketing and advertising disciplines, but will deliver a more seamless, relevant experience by targeting each individual as close as possible to the purchase decision (or an event that drives it), through the most effective and efficient channel.

Neil Woodcock is the CEO of The Customer Framework

The Customer Framework is a member of the Clustre innovation community, a collection of specialist firms delivering inspired solutions to some of today’s most demanding business challenges.