The Imminent Evolution from Social to Digital Engagement

How do you define engagement? Engagement symbolizes the touches that occur in various moments of truth. Touch points open and close whether a customer stands on the stage of awareness, consideration, purchase, or post purchase. It is in those moments that engagement, regardless of source or shape, affects the next steps and impressions of customers.

These moments of truth are not limited to any one channel. Whether customers are navigating social, mobile, Web or in real life (IRL), they approach each stage of the journey with different needs, in varying stages of decision making, and with one of several frames of mind depending on the context of engagement and also the screen (smartphone, PC, tablet, TV, etc.) they’re using in each moment. It’s becoming increasingly complex, but then again, so is the path of consumer decision-making.

The image above represents a detailed customer journey map that outlines the important steps your connected customers take during and following decision-making. The map also introduces the diverse elements that factor in to each step. Perhaps even more important are the channels and screens individuals use to make their way along the journey. Mobile, social, Web, IRL:  they each contribute to a customer experience that either helps or prevents them from moving along in your favor.

In my research, I’ve found that more often than not, each stage of the customer journey, along with the mixed channels that they use, are defined or programmed by different groups within the organization. The social experience is developed independently of the mobile experience which is disconnected from the Web experience. The point is that customers only see one brand or business and, therefore, each channel should complement one another to deliver against a desired experience and journey optimized for the moments of truth and for the context of each screen.

The expansion from social to digital engagement

One of the ways I’ve defined “engagement” over the years was quite simple: it’s when a business and consumer interact within their channel of relevance during various moments of truth. Engagement, though, is then measured by the actions, sentiment, and outcomes that result from each interaction. To optimize results, experiences, click paths, outcomes, and sentiment must be defined and enlivened through each channel in each moment. To do so takes vision, articulation of that vision, and collaboration with all stakeholder groups to cast a unified approach. Yes. It’s the age-old argument of bringing down silos and opening doors between departments and groups that just don’t talk to each other right now. But, that’s just what needs to happen, and the more progressive companies are already taking note.

One such company is a business that may be part of your everyday routine.. Starbucks recently appointed Adam Brotman, former senior vice president of Starbucks Digital Ventures, to an entirely new executive role as chief digital officer. The CDO role assumes all of Starbuck’s digital projects, including Web, mobile, social media, digital marketing, Starbucks Card and loyalty, e-commerce, Wi-Fi, Starbucks Digital Network, and emerging in-store technologies.

Sephora is another forward-thinking company that is uniting disparate channel strategies and various customer journeys in the name of holistic experiences. Sephora recently underwent a makeover to define the ideal customer experience and how it would play out in digital and real world channels, including in-store engagement, while complementing and optimizing one another.

The digital lifestyle is a way of life now, and businesses that don’t think beyond social or traditional will miss the greater opportunity to lead desirable customer journeys, experiences, and outcomes. Take one more look at the Dynamic Customer Journey. As you plan for 2013 social, mobile, digital, and other channel strategies, consider how each can converge into a reciprocal and congruous ecosystem. The future of customer experiences lies in experience design and, more importantly, customer journey mapping…across the screens and in real life.

Welcome to a new world of customer journey management (CJM) and the ability to bring people together around a common vision for improving customer experiences, sentiment and relationships.

[Source: AT&T Networking Exchange Blog]

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