Thanks to Customer Journey Orchestration, our understanding and management of customer journeys has improved significantly in the last few years. As related analysis platforms have developed, brands have increasingly sought to capitalize on customer journey analytics. Here’s what you’ll need for effective customer journey analysis.
Customer Journeys are the customer interactions made across touchpoints with a brand, based on individual choices and aiming to address needs. With a customer-led journey mindset, these cannot be managed. But fortunately, they can be understood.
Customer Journeys depict what customers are actually doing, as opposed to what a brand thinks they’re doing (or wants them to do). Once this is understood – and it’s important to remember that this is quite different from traditional customer journey mapping – we can then go on to consider how to analyze the customer journey.
Customer Journey Analysis monitors the impacts of every two-way engagement between a brand and its customers, across the entire customer lifecycle. In simple terms, Customer Journey analytics explores tangible customer behavior, capturing or presenting this in an appropriate way from which Customer Journey Analysis can then be performed. In other words, Customer Journey Analytics platforms provide the information; Customer Journey Analysis seeks to understand what it means.
To conduct any analysis, we must have a single starting point: a clear hypothesis worthy of investigation. In turn, any assumption to prove or disprove it would then require supporting evidence. A common pitfall we’ve seen in Customer Journey Analysis projects is that brands progress without having a single key question or assumption in mind. Without a formal process, this is understandable, but it can cause unwelcome pressures on resources and budgets, and crucially, those big “aha” moments won’t be forthcoming. (Even machine learning, arguably the most advanced analysis method available today, needs to have a starting point for the question it is answering.)
A common starting point in our discussions with brands is the identification and consideration of their long-term, overarching strategies, and the supporting day-to-day tasks. Ignoring one without thought for the other is potentially damaging; without careful planning upfront, analysis may become too theoretical or overwhelming (and not sufficiently strategic) in scope. As with most initiatives, journey analysis needs a healthy day-to-day, detailed analysis supporting long-term customer journey strategies. For success, the ability to flip between these two perspectives is critical.
As a leading technology player in journey analytics, we help to articulate a specific overarching customer strategy and goals for the business upfront. This will be a pivotal area of focus for journey analysis, generally requiring us to consider why customers choose the brand and what they’re seeking.
Here are some real examples of overarching engagement strategies and related goals that brands have shared with us over the years:
Strategy: Increase revenue
Strategy: Increase engagement
Strategy: Increase revenue
Strategy: Increase engagement
Notice the differences between brand and customer perspectives; sometimes subtle, other times more blatant. And while the result is common (something is purchased, or information is shared), the rationale and motivations are typically different. For brands that are serious about being customer-centric, there is an urgent need to articulate and embrace why customers arrive – and stay.
Buying into the concept of customer-centricity doesn’t prevent us from mapping these motivations or experiences directly to internal revenue or cost targets. The mere act of aligning financial needs within customers’ needs can begin to shift the organizational mindset – and of course, we know that profit and growth are driven by customer engagement.
Conversations are the means through which we can use journey analysis to show improvements in customer engagement. Confident in our fundamental engagement strategy and goal, we can contemplate how to positively impact customer journeys. This exercise should directly support the strategy and related perspectives.
A brand perennially converses with its customers through the information it shares, products or services it provides, its marketing communications, or associated servicing. And while Journey Orchestration allows us to engage in new ways (that are more informed, relevant, real-time, and consistent), we still need to determine what we want to say, to whom, where, and when. Every opportunity for a more relevant customer conversation is appraised by how it can positively impact a customer’s journey outcomes and experiences with our brand. These conversations will be crucial to any journey analysis since they serve as the bonding agent between the greater strategy and tactical details.
From the outset, it’s worth concentrating our conversation (user journey) planning on ways we might interact with customers who are, or could be, impacted by our strategy.
In the Telco example – selling more bundled products (while also providing customers with the lowest cost plan for their service needs) – the brand’s conversation plan took the following shape:
Note that we are only planning for all the possible conversation opportunities at this point. Don’t worry about creating those elements just yet, but it’s worth being aware of available opportunities that could be deployed later. When it comes to the day-to-day tactics, it’s best to start small, gain success (and confidence), and then scale. In time and with the right ambition, this will provide the basis for an organization-wide journey orchestration and analysis process that is repeatable across every customer system and department.
A shared vision of the ultimate end goal is helpful. For those who understand the significance of end-to-end customer journeys, this is typically around the creation of ongoing customer engagement, seamless journeys across touchpoints (and the businesses) and helping every individual to achieve their goal at every point of interaction.
Once we’ve identified the types of conversations we could have, it’s possible to begin listening to customer behavior. The listening stage is critical in determining a baseline measurement that we will compare against after we have engaged in journey conversations. This is achieved by analyzing real customer journeys in places that are pertinent to our day-to-day tactics; we are also particularly sensitive to any moments that may facilitate successful ongoing conversations. Remember, our approach is to plan big and start small. In the earlier Telco example, while the organization could capture every possible interaction (digital purchase step, call center and chat interactions within a purchase flow, sales rep calls nurturing a prospect, bundle campaign responses, and so forth), they managed to maintain focus. This was possible by selecting just two of these channels to start – and adding the third only after these were running smoothly.
In Customer Journey Analysis, conversations are the means through which we can show journey improvement. As an evolving connection between a brand and its customers, they provide crucial customer feedback, allowing us to analyze behavior before and after each interaction takes place. In the Telco scenario, the business analyzed which conversations had the highest rate of increase in the number of successful bundle purchases, as compared to before the conversation occurred. The variables, (information, channel, delivery method, timing) became highly significant when considering key influences in the customer’s experience.
When considering which conversations should be deployed first, and the channels and touchpoints of particular interest, it also helps to consider which systems are most accessible to your team in the near term. Within this, does the team have the most willing and supportive stakeholders, are the choices most influential with customers, and are they likely to have a high volume of customers moving between them (for example, email campaigns to websites)?
At this stage, it is a matter of creating appropriate conversation content.
Once the conversations have been running for a bit (we usually recommend at least one business week to start, two weeks if possible), we can perform journey analysis comparing specific customer journey behavior before and after each conversation and measure the holistic impact on our strategy.
Unlike the analysis of traditional journey maps, an important element to understanding end-to-end customer journeys is our ability to digest the impact of experiences over time. While tempting to monitor a campaign journey or assess in-the-moment behavior in isolation, this lacks context; customers are commonly on more than one journey with a brand at any given time. Therefore, their journey is constantly evolving, which creates frequent opportunities for them to reevaluate how they view a brand. Similarly, the journey isn’t linear as it skips between channels, touchpoints and time. Ultimately, Journey Orchestration seeks to provide an engagement layer that unifies all conversations, across every customer facing system – and Customer Journey Analysis helps us make sense of it all.
The most important aspect of Customer Journey Analysis is to grasp the fact that customer journeys have changed from being campaign- or business-based, dictated affairs to become customer-led, long-term and evolving experiences.
As the accumulation of a customer’s experiences over time, journeys are constantly changing; this understanding forms the bedrock for our analysis. Our vision for our engagement strategy must therefore align both a brand’s and its customers’ perspectives, since our organizational goal is to deliver the best possible, mutually valuable conversations at scale.