05.02.2019 | ESB Topnews, Research

Effective customer journey design

A new study by Professor Dr Christina Kühnl

Eine neue Studie von Prof. Dr. Christina Kühnl beschäftigt sich mit dem Customer Journey. / A new study by Prof. Dr. Christina Kühnl takes a closer look at the customer journey.
Eine neue Studie von Prof. Dr. Christina Kühnl beschäftigt sich mit dem Customer Journey. / A new study by Prof. Dr. Christina Kühnl takes a closer look at the customer journey.

Since 2016 Professor Dr Christina Kühnl has been teaching and researching at ESB Business School, Reutlingen University. Her special fields are marketing management, innovation and product design. In 2019 the renowned journal of the Academy of Marketing Science published her latest research paper. In cooperation with two colleagues, Professor Dr Kühnl wrote the study “Effective customer journey design: consumers’ conception, measurement, and consequences". In an interview, she tells us more about this fascinating topic.  

What does the term “customer journey“ describe?

A customer journey describes the process a customer passes through, for example when he or she speaks to friends about a product or a service, takes a look at it in a shop and then buys it in an online shop. All these so called touchpoints form a customer journey.  

What is characteristic of a well-made customer journey?

An effective customer journey is characterised by the fact that the customer is the focus in the design of all the touchpoints offered by a company. To ensure that the customer stays loyal to the company, the company should make it as easy and pleasant as possible for the customer to experience a customer journey.
We have found out that to do this the design of the customer journey is decisive. In particular, a thematically strong consistency, context sensitivity and design consistency across all touchpoints are crucial for the customers.

I would like to use an example to explain what this means in concrete terms: Amazon would like to provide its customers with an exceptional shopping experience. Its own delivery fleet in the USA allows the company to exercise more control over how and when the deliveries arrive at the customers. The delivery vans have the Amazon smile logo, so their design is consistent with the other Amazon touchpoints (website, packaging etc.). To address the respective situation of the customers in terms of context sensitivity even better, this new touchpoint allows the customers to track the current location of the Amazon delivery at any time.  

In your study you come to the conclusion that an effective customer journey design has a positive impact on customer loyalty. What is the connection there?

On the one hand, we were able to establish a direct, positive influence on customer loyalty. On the other hand, an effective customer journey design also increases customer loyalty indirectly by exerting an additional positive influence on the customers’ brand attitude. Further, we have found out that an effective customer journey design is especially relevant for services and for brands in which customers display high involvement or face low switching costs. 

What did you do to substantiate your hypotheses about customer journey design? 

First, we wanted to know how customers perceive the term effective customer journey design. For this purpose and in addition to a literature search, we conducted in-depth interviews and in doing so identified the aspects of thematic consistency, context sensitivity as well as design consistency in the touchpoints as central features of an effective customer journey design. Then we developed a scale to measure an effective customer journey design which finally 4,612 consumers in the USA and Germany used to rate one out of a total of 40 brands from ten B2C industries. With these data we were able to prove empirically the connections described above.

 

The study: Kuehnl, C., D. Jozic, & Ch. Homburg (2019), "Effective customer journey design: consumers’ conception, measurement, and consequences", Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-018-00625-7