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Customer Journey Management: Worth the Investment
Customers use many different channels and touchpoints during their lifecycle with a business: researching products in a store or online, asking peers for advice on social media, leveraging Web chat during an online purchase, or gaining support via email, phone or Web self-service. As a result, the frequency of interactions has grown and is highly dependent on individual customer preferences.
Although businesses are aware that their customers flit between channels before making purchasing decisions or asking for support from an agent, few have formal systems in place to recognize these cross-channel interactions. They want to offer their customers different channel choices but by doing so they make customer-to-business relationships complex and difficult to track.
The next stage in the development of multichannel customer service is for businesses to look at how customers are using different channels to find information or communicate. By pinpointing common journeys and interaction patterns they can make better business decisions, empower contact center staff, and invest in the right technologies.
The aim of customer journey management is to reduce customer effort at various lifecycle stages; by predicting customer needs they can push relevant context to customers and agents at the most opportune time. Businesses can use information about customer journeys to influence the outcomes of interactions and ultimately ensure that customers remain satisfied and loyal to their brand. However, businesses will encounter some challenges when considering how to map and manage customer journeys. These include:
- Matching actions to one customer. A customer could use a work computer for product research on the Web, a home computer to make a purchase, and then a smart device to view community information and make a phone call to an agent. Each interaction will be recorded separately and not necessarily linked to the same customer.
- Understanding untraceable points in the customer journey. In-store conversations or discussions on social media between friends about a brand are not usually recorded. Businesses may not be tracking social or community mentions that are not directly associated with their Twitter handles or in their own forums.
- Considering individual customer preferences. Each customer goes through different actions depending on personal preferences, so defining a typical journey can be difficult. Businesses may need to outline out several common journeys.
- Tying together data housed in different silos. Data sets within an organization often reside in departmental silos, with marketing owning advertising and Web tracking data, and the contact center owning call and email case management records. Cleaning records and matching data sets from different applications and departments will take time.
- Assuring wary customers about data sharing. Customers don't want to be tracked across all stages of their journey, particularly if they think a company will use what they've learned to try and sell to them. They are increasingly concerned about data security and how organizations use their data. Nevertheless, they are more likely to accept data sharing if they can see clear benefits to their user experience and are assured of respect and privacy.
In realizing these challenges and the need for businesses to better understand their customers, contact center vendors are developing solutions to help organizations manage customer journeys. These tools connect multiple data sources and use real-time analytics, linking marketing and Web tracking data with customer interaction records and customer purchasing history. Businesses can then set up rules and actions based on interactions. For example, at a certain point in a digital transaction they may wish to offer a proactive chat or callback. They can provide on-screen tips on a Web page to alert a customer about useful content. And importantly, they can provide agents with the historical context about customer journeys so that they can provide assistance more quickly and reduce repetition on the customer end.
Mapping and influencing customer journeys is more than just a technology investment. Businesses also need to make organizational changes so that different departments align and the organization can use the results to improve broader business goals, whether they relate to reducing costs or creating the ultimate customer experience.
If you're interested in learning more about the challenges and technologies behind customer journey mapping, join me next week at Enterprise Connect 2015 in Orlando, where I'll be moderating the session, "Managing the Customer Journey," on Monday, March 16, at 3:15 p.m. Join the discussion!