The prominence of 'digital natives' among consumers is throwing the customer journey into a state of flux, with tech savvy customers driving demand for a hyper personalised experience, according to Ben Rund, senior director of product information management at Informatica. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

With this in mind, Informatica has identified a number of ways in which companies and brands can rethink their existing customer journeys to create more personalised, interactive, omni-channel campaigns that will also boost both brand advocacy and customer loyalty:

  1. Start with search
    Consumers will start their engagement with a brand online and through a search engine. However, rarely will they scroll past the first page so brands need to be prepared by turning product lines into searchable content. To capture a greater share of online traffic, organisations should concentrate on making relevant products easy to find by managing meta-information, optimising media assets with the keywords that consumers are using, deploying rich text and automatically sending products to search engines.
  2. Offer dynamic content
    Online customers use images and videos to inform decisions so if they can't find what they are looking for, don't understand how a product meets their needs or aren't confident in their choice then they won't continue to engage with a brand. Since most customer journeys now start online, businesses need to aggregate data from different suppliers to create rich and up-to-date product listings that encourage further engagement.
  3. Track customer's movements
    Once today's customers have completed their initial research online, then brands need to be able to understand how they are moving between different channels. This goes beyond being able to obtain a single customer view and extends to generating a real-time understanding of the pricing and content that the main competition is using for each product line. Armed with this information, then the businesses can concentrate on delivering personalised ads or timely product placements that keep the brand top of mind as the consumer transitions across different channels and interacts with a competitor and its offerings.
  4. Offer next-gen loyalty with recognition tools
    Brands now need to know as much about their consumers as their customers know about the brand. This means being able to monitor a customer's behaviour, having a holistic view of the information that they are looking at and the channels that they are using to develop integrated loyalty schemes. For example, by being able to integrate information on a smartphone consumer with their geo-location and previous browsing history then an organisation can target them with a personalised text message as they pass by a certain location.
  5. Don't forget to innovate!
    New technologies, such as virtual reality, are emerging that take the customer experience to the next level and offer a new tool for engagement. For example, Thomas Cook recently introduced a head mounted virtual reality 3D display at its Bluewater store offering customers the opportunity to complete a 360-degree stereoscopic tour of its Sentido resort, complimented by bespoke audio and fragrance. Increasingly, the industry will see that virtual reality is one of the tools that can be used to open up new, interactive ways of crafting the customer experience for those brands that are prepared.

Ultimately, consumer's expectations have been irrevocably changed by digital brands that offer the easiest possible path to fulfilment. As a result, brands need to focus on creating an omni-channel approach that incorporate digital devices and deliver all the information needed to meet customer's demand for convenience and ensure transactions can be completed anytime, anywhere and anyhow.

"By thinking about to deliver information in new ways that captures a customer's emotions at a particular point in time, organisations will be able to build trust in the brand and its product and successfully navigate the customer journey reset," concluded Rund.