The Five Elusive W’s of the Customer Journey

By Andrea Susman

Ah, the five W’s of customer communication and the general customer journey. Principles as old as time.

Who, what, when, where, and why?

At one point in time they were much simpler concepts, both easy to grasp and easy to adhere to. Thanks to modern technology, however, that’s no longer the case.


Take the concept of “who,” for example. At one time, it simply meant customers, or your entire customer base. Today, the “who” is much more precise and detailed, and there are multiple layers. It doesn’t just boil down to who a person is, but also how they interact with the world. You might have a demographic sorted by customer behaviors, for instance, or another that includes people who only buy one particular product. Then, those groups are boiled down based on the platform they use such as mobile or desktop.


Big data especially has parsed the “who” down to more specific details, and continues to do so as we learn more and more about consumers. The number of data sources actively analyzed by business today, is expected to grow by 83 percent between 2015 and 2020.


But the “who” isn’t the only thing that’s changed, all the W’s have. And not just because of technology, in general, but due to mobile and bite-sized experiences, as well. Think about it, since we’ve made the jump to mobile from desktop and more traditional computer-based setups we now have to factor in new experiences and use-cases. Mobile touchpoints are much more potent, yet require more work than their desktop counterparts.


Really, it all contributes to business intelligence and customer intelligence which can be used to grab more of a foothold in your market or industry. Every customer journey or experience is fueled by customer intelligence, the concept of understanding who your customer is, what they want, and how you can fulfill their needs. More importantly, you must be able to predict or understand this information before the customer even starts their journey with your company.


How is such a thing possible? The same way it always has been, through the use of the five major W’s in business. You just have to apply them to a modern, mobile-centric world.



The first thing you’ll need to understand is who your customer truly is? What do they know about your brand, whether via reputation or social influence? Have they been to your briefing centers before? Have they attended any events or participated in any activities? What kind of history do they have with your brand?


You’ll find through most of this discussion that questions are met with more questions, but that’s how you get to the bottom of a mystery or situation. Keep asking them, and don’t move on until you have all the answers.


One of the best ways to gather this information, and get to know your audience a little better, is to employ customer intelligence tools which deliver the right data and metrics. KPIs or key performance indicators, especially, can be used to track the necessary activity and volumes you want.


The good news is that mobile platforms or mobile touchpoints are some of the easiest to extract information from. Not only is it easy to get exactly what you want, but it’s also a great way to ingest additional insights that can help you now or in the future. Due to the nature of mobile devices and their constant connectivity, they are always reporting new details such as location, trends and habits, app use, web activity and much more.


Details today, come in the form of data. So, make sure you are consistently maintaining and paying attention to your influx of customer intelligence data. 96 percent of media and marketing executives have made it clear, they are deeply committed to leveraging audience data as a means to transform their business into a more data-centric organization.



What are the needs and wants of your customer, sans company levels? That is, what do they specifically want, what are their individual motivations? What content have they already been exposed to or do they access?


Obviously, discerning this information requires a small amount of customer intelligence and performance data. But it’s also about your SWOT analysis of prospective account, which dictates how ready and prepared you are to deliver cross-functional, personalized experiences to your customers. It is generally one of the first stages of planning, but that’s what makes SWOT analysis so useful. You iron out the strengths, weaknesses, potential opportunities and, of course, threats. Then you roll with it all and find new, innovative ways to deal with the entire journey.



Central to anyone in today’s hyper-fast and busy world, is time. What kind of time do your customers have? What days are most convenient for them, and when is the opportune time-frame for new experiences and content delivery? Morning might be out because they’re helping a spouse or partner deal with their kids. The commute might be out because they are actually the ones driving, focused on the road.


Align your schedule with the work and travel needs of your audience. Then, at the ideal moment, present organizational thought leaders and proper subject matter experts that map to optimized touchpoints that point back to opportunities.


Furthermore, structure your entire campaign so everything remains consistent and available at one location or platform. By maintaining a consistent stream of meetings or events, at one place or through a single meeting feed, you are ensuring that all parties stay on the same page.


The customer journey is a 24/7 beast and you have to plan for the in between moments, which keeps the factor of ‘when’ constant.



The where is also important, because it involves where everything takes place whether it be in the digital realm or real one. EBC and on-site events are always important, but you must also be able to meet travel and business needs of your audience, which requires flexibility.


Why not consider taking your EBC on the road? Or, working from a remote office or location? This is a great idea because going to where your customers are, their local area, you can better ensure they experience things the way you want them to.


This is no different on mobile or digital platforms either. Delivering a consistent mobile experiences with expected capabilities is similar to bringing everything to your customer physically. On mobile too, it’s worth knowing that you can tailor experiences based on where your customers have been. So, doing something like altering the experience to include cafes, rooms, or locations they always visit, is not out of the question.



Finally, we come to the why. Why is now the time to make a change or take action? What problems are your customers having that motivated them to come to you? What solutions can you provide, and why would they be considered lucrative to your audience?


Looking at your own processes and distribution channels is a good start, but it’s not a bad idea to check out vendors and similar brands for comparison. Benchmark what those vendors are doing, and make sure you understand the “why” for how the whole situation is playing out. Are things in their favor or not?


It’s important that for any of the W’s, or any stage in the customer journey, you readily have information accessible on-demand and are providing a consistent experience to key stakeholders, so that when you step into a new room or congregate with a new audience or group, you are armed with all the important information you’ll need.


With all the technology and smart solutions available at our fingertips, never stop asking questions. Send, collect, measure pools of data and information. Create surveys and polls that can help extract direct and more personal answers from your audience. Knowing specifically why someone needs or wants you is a big help and a step in the right direction for delivering superior experiences.




Tags: Blog, CX, Data, Integrated Tech, Mobility, Thought Leadership

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