Create a personalized
customer experience:
Put the customer first
in the customer journey

Author: Maria E. Fernandez-Riddick

Your customers are savvier and expect more from you than ever. They want a seamless, instant, personalized customer experience. This expectation of a personalized experience affects the products and services you need to deliver. To deliver a personalized customer experience means product managers have to realign their objectives. The role is changing; it’s no longer just about fulfilling the four P’s of marketing: product, placement, price and promotion. These days, product managers need to put the customer first because customers expect a personalized customer experience.

Understanding customer journey to create personalized customer experience

Traditional product management used to religiously follow the four P’s—and, for a while, that worked. But things have changed. Standing out from the crowd requires providing not only a great customer experience but also a personalized experience. And to create a personalized experience, product managers need to focus on understanding their customers. They should research their desired target market and develop persona profiles that best describe customers’ needs, motivations, demographics and other key traits.

The customer journey starts well before a sale is made, and it doesn’t end with the transaction. Previously, product managers wouldn’t dream of involving customers in testing prototypes. Today, many companies are doing just that to help inform designs and generate early interest. Similarly, product managers didn’t get too involved with what happened after a product had gone to market. They seldom collaborated with process owners on ordering, billing and care. Now, that involvement is essential to delivering the best possible personalized experience, which means a personalized customer experience.

Product management success is no longer measured solely by sales, revenue and profit. It must also account for customer engagement—which can engender customer loyalty. That’s why Verizon product managers set customer-centric metrics for every stage of the customer journey. We’re collecting customer data at every touch point to map the whole journey and to design customer personas to create a more personalized customer experience.

Creating agile, customer-centric design

With this information, we can establish the user stories that guide our product developments and service enhancements. This agile, customer-centric approach to product and service design can help you meet customer demands more quickly.

Using traditional approaches to product development, you might have gone to market with exactly the product you envisioned. But those approaches typically took a long time—too long for today’s consumers, who want everything now. And often, the product wasn’t truly filling a customer’s needs.

To create a personalized experience, we’re considering the customer journey from the outset. We seat customers at the table during the development process. We work from minimally viable products and deliver in sprints so that we can quickly release versions, test them, receive customer feedback and respond promptly with improvements. And we build cross-functional teams to account for a product’s full life story.

Making small changes to deliver a personalized experience

We’re now witnessing some of the success of our customer journey mapping projects. We’re seeing it in faster innovation and lower development costs. We are also receiving customer insights about our products and services so we can continuously improve and innovate.

This isn’t all about developing the next big thing. Sometimes by identifying the small yet effective changes to serve your customers better, you can have a big impact on delivering a personalized experience.

One Verizon product manager says it this way: “Customer journey mapping helped us to laser focus on some key fixes, recognizing we can’t fix everything but that you can still make material improvements to enhance the experience.”

Find out how Verizon can help you to deliver a more personalized experience for your customers, so that the customer journey is a rewarding and satisfying one.

Maria Fernandez-Riddick is a customer experience transformation evangelist at Verizon Business Group.