The COVID 19 crisis has dramatically changed customer journeys and what brands need to do to analyse and understand them. The traditional tools and methods associated with customer journey mapping are falling short in terms of providing a realistic and up to date view of an individual customer’s journey. Brands are turning to the relatively new practice of Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) as a solution.
Mapping the customer journey is often the first step an organisation takes when it wants to improve the customer experience.
A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes[i].
With customer journey mapping companies can still struggle, however, to address expectations and provide customers with experiences that are personalised, emotionally engaging and add value to both the business and the customer. The reason for this is that it’s extremely difficult to understand how customer interactions across multiple touchpoints connect, overlap and influence each other to support an ongoing relationship.
The limitations of customer journey mapping
Tighernach Murphy, sales director for InQuba in Australia, has observed, “Customer journey mapping typically occurs when management consultants are brought in to help kick start a customer experience project. The consultants will get everyone together in a room and start a whiteboard session to model all the possible customer journeys. Based on information from employees they try and build a view of the customer’s journey.”
Despite the popularity of journey mapping and the benefits it can deliver, it does have some significant draw backs and limitations. Murphy highlights the following:
- Journey maps are generally an internal view of the customer journey, drawn from information gathered from employees. They don’t represent the real customer journey from the point of view of the customer.
- Maps are fixed but journeys change. The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted how quickly and dramatically things can change. The maps drawn up today can quickly become out-of-date and inaccurate.
- Every customer’s journey is different even if that difference is very slight. Journey mapping doesn’t cater for small variations in the journey and is unable to give you a clear view of every customer.
- Journey mapping doesn’t accurately pinpoint potential roadblocks or pain points in the customer’s journey. A moment of truth occurs anytime a customer interacts with the organisation. When things do not work as expected (or desired), these moments turn into pain points.
- Journey maps do not convey the emotional context for a customer. If a customer is interacting with a brand, they may feel the organization is doing a great job and they’re offering great value or alternatively they feel the brand doesn’t value them and has let them down.
This doesn’t mean companies should do away with journey mapping all together, but they do need to be aware of its limitations.
The shift to Customer Journey Analytics (CJA)
Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) aims to address many of the shortfalls and challenges associated with customer journey mapping. Murphy comments, “Rather than relying on images or illustrations drawn from information provided by employees, CJA relies on data collected from various customer touchpoints. This is factual information about actual customer interactions.”
Forrester defines CJA as:
An analytics practice that combines quantitative and qualitative data to analyse customer behaviours and motivations across touchpoints and over time to optimise customer interactions and predict future behaviour[ii].
“Connections are made between the data collected across the different touchpoints and communication channels with customers. By presenting a more accurate view of the customer journey, journey analytics allows companies to isolate, quantify, model and track opportunities to improve CX and business results”, says Murphy.
Journey analytics is becoming a must have for customer obsessed enterprises. The ability to integrate data across departmental silos to provide a unified view of the customer is extremely compelling. CJA allows organisations to optimise customer journeys, removing roadblocks and pain points for customers.
Investing in a CJA platform
It is best to view CJA is a practice rather than a specific technology, though it typically involves the use of some very sophisticated tools and technology. The market for these applications is still relatively young but it is gaining in momentum and maturity.
Gartner’s Market Guide for Customer Journey Analytics highlights four core functional areas a CJA solution should provide:
- Data gathering – the ability to collect and gather data from every customer touchpoint. analytics can be quite overwhelming.
- Connecting – CJA applications need to identify all channels used by individual customers and the common elements used across those channels.
- Visualisation – A tool or application that allows the visualisation of what channels are being used by customers and how they are using them throughout their entire lifecycle.
- Acting – After gathering, connecting and visualising data, the information needs to be put into action to achieve real business results.
Due to the number of data sources that need to be combined and the volume of data, journey analytics can become overwhelming. With the right tools and technology partner, however, companies can quickly get a feel for the number of customers on a specific journey or affected by an issue. The journey data helps to visualise specific behaviours and identify pain points or roadblocks that prevent customers from reaching their goals.
The ultimate goal is to provide better experiences for customers. The more you understand about their journeys the more you can do to make it easier for them to reach their destination. The adoption of CJA is likely to become more widespread in the months and years to come.