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The Transformational Power of Customer Journey Orchestration

The Transformational Power of Customer Journey Orchestration

Over nearly 20 years, Bridge Partners has developed a vantage point from which to observe the evolution of the cloud and tech industry. We have crafted messaging, built go-to-market plans, and activated programs for most of the biggest names in enterprise technology, including 14 of the 20 largest in the world. Today we’re witnessing a significant change in enterprise marketing operating models. Industry leaders are re-envisioning their approach to growth and preparing for profound operational changes in response to market conditions we believe are fundamental—and durable.  

Best-in-class technology marketing organizations have in many cases already pivoted from an engineering-led, feature-and-benefit approach to communicating value to a customer-led approach organized around a robust view of the customer journey. They’re looking for balanced growth and efficiency at all stages of the lifecycle, investing in both brand and martech, and shoring up customer experiences using first-party data. Their learning along the way is potentially instructive for executives looking to drive similar changes. 

Let’s look at why things are changing and what comes next.   


The trickle-down effects of market maturity 

The technology industry has matured, with increased parity among major platforms and capacity within enterprises to quickly parry competitive innovation. The cloud race has come to feel more like a marathon than a sprint. Customers across industries and market segments have invested significantly in their many SaaS tools and are increasingly focused on maximizing their business value, slowing the consideration cycle. Add to this the fact that capital and income streams no longer flow as freely as they once did, and it’s easy to see why new customers are harder to come by.     

70% of CX leaders are rethinking their entire customer journey. (Zendesk) 

With near-term profitability and sustainable long-term growth as their new charter, technology marketers are recognizing the foundational importance of customer relationships and loyalty. To succeed in the evolved, mature technology marketplace, forward-thinking leaders understand that maximizing the customer journey means finding revenue everywhere, expanding existing account footprints, and minimizing churn. And, with 70% of CX leaders rethinking their entire customer journey, this is the year of massive transformation.   


Customer journeys, old-school style 

Historically speaking, customer journey work has not always centered on the customer. Instead, it has sometimes focused on product-centric marketing programs and been boiled down to a linear progression on a PowerPoint slide. But a customer’s actual buying journey will start, stop, pause, and continue, with numerous stakeholders cycling in and out of the buying committee or taking on greater responsibility at one stage or another. And the journey spans multiple purchase decisions from initial points of contact to renewals, upgrades, downgrades, and churn.   

For large businesses, the median number of influencers in a cloud purchase decision is 10, with 91% of organizations having no single decision maker. (Spiceworks) 

There’s real power in synthesizing the complicated reality in an easily-understood set of slides. But the fact is that many of these customer journey artifacts have created an artificially linear and singular view, omitting the rich nuance of the customer experience—and in the process missing the opportunity to connect the marketing organization to the customer in a meaningful, visceral way that can be operationalized for growth. 

We think there are three powerful lessons to learn from the best enterprise technology marketing organizations—three pivots that can unlock true customer-centricity. They’re both a little generalized for the sake of brevity and more difficult to do than might be apparent here! But we hope you’ll recognize some opportunity and find value in these observations: 


Pivot 1: From bottom-up to top-down 

Customer journey understandings might be owned by the product marketing, digital, sales, customer experience, or customer success team. Or they might be owned simultaneously by many different teams in silos, with each interpreting customer signals differently, working from different data sets, creating conflicting experiences and messaging for the same set of buyers. Think, for example, about Industry teams, Segment teams, and Product Marketing teams all choreographing slightly different journeys. This is, at best, wasteful and, at worst, disorienting for the customer. 

It’s critical that customer journey orchestration is delivered as a broad mandate and embraced as an ongoing executive-level priority. Customer data must be integrated across silos and systems. Strategy and planning must be coordinated across functional groups—at least communicated consistently, better yet tightly coordinated, and ideally functioning as a powerful medium for top-to-top collaboration among senior leaders with a stake in the customer. Without this top-down reinforcement and accountability, customer journey fragmentation will introduce persistent breakages in the operating model.   


Pivot 2: From inside-out to right-side-out  

It’s easy for marketing teams measured on delivery to be primarily focused on near-term content and programs. Those efforts require intense focus and significant time. As a result, the enterprise understanding of the customer journey can quietly be force-fitted to the demands of the operating model, effectively matching itself to an internal perspective. Products and programs become the starting point and final destination for customer journey inputs, a form of confirmation bias favoring the technology itself over the customer it’s built to serve.  

A right-side-out view of the customer journey begins with the customer and ends in real-world value. The customer’s input, sentiment, and data should be the top and only priority. Customer needs and the events that trigger new purchases, which could be driven by internal business goals or external market forces, should be the very heart of the customer journey, the animating force bringing it to life in the work. (This explains, at least in part, why we see many of the B2B technology brands we work with investing heavily in industry-first GTM initiatives. The industry lens offers great context to why customers are looking for technology solutions and illuminates how they think about their own business.)   


Pivot 3: From backward-facing to forward-looking

Even for marketers who fully commit to the belief that customers come first, it is difficult to move beyond reactive intelligence. Acting on data is good—but only to the extent previous behaviors predict future behaviors. In dynamic marketplaces, where changing conditions continuously impact customer needs, performance data’s predictive value is always in question. Marketers have understood this for a long time and worked to shorten feedback cycles and automate funnel optimization. That’s good, but it’s not sufficient. 

AI enhances the omnichannel customer journey by providing personalized recommendations, predictive analytics, chatbots for instant support, and data-driven insights, ensuring a seamless and efficient customer experience across channels. Documenting what has happened in the past is challenging yet useful in its own right. But looking back can only do so much to shape how a brand shows up for customers in the future.   

With AI and predictive analytics, brands can anticipate how customers will behave, rather than simply describing what happened in the past and hoping it will happen again. First-party data can power deep insight into customers, former customers, and prospects. These insights will have dramatic implications on big-picture customer journey orchestration and the most minute details of a customer’s experience, manifested in the form of automated personalization and content customization at scale. 


Final thoughts: reach to retention to revenue 

Reaching the right customer at the right time is a foundational tenet of marketing. Equipped with hard data, propensity insights, and operational agility, it’s now possible to not just reach customers at any stage in their journey—meeting them where they are now—but anticipate where they may go next. 

This anticipation cues a chain reaction that ultimately leads to revenue. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of customer service and support organizations will be applying generative AI technology to improve agent productivity and customer experience. And customer retention has an outsized impact on profitability, with a 5% boost in retention causing the bottom line to swell anywhere between 25% and 95%, according to HubSpot.  

By knowing your customers’ preferences and paths, you can deepen trust and increase retention. 

Fully realized customer journey orchestration, the ongoing strategic practice of customer-centric marketing, can unlock growth in new stages of the lifecycle, synchronizing the entire organization around a unified understanding of the customer’s complex and ever-shifting reality. Depending on the organization’s starting point, the path to success can be complicated—the good news is that it’s rational, achievable, and with the right kinds of executive sponsorship can even get done at a fast pace. 



Bridge Partners empowers 360° brand and product experiences, delivering real results for the world’s largest tech and cloud companies. Our advisory team collaborates with industry leaders to set strategic direction, accelerate revenue growth, and enhance enterprise value. Ready to transform your business? Contact us today to start your journey with Bridge Partners. 

About the author

Tim Gunderson

Tim Gunderson

As a Principal in the Digital Marketing Practice, Tim helps some of the most innovative cloud and tech companies in the world bring their message to the market. His thoughtful, pragmatic approach to demand gen marketing focuses on adding value and delivering tangible, cost-effective results for Bridge Partners clients. Tim holds an MBA from Seattle University and a BA from the University of Washington. Away from work, he enjoys all things basketball, eating, and traveling.

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About the Author

Tim Gunderson