home Customer Experience, Insights and Data Overcoming the barriers to understanding the customer journey

Overcoming the barriers to understanding the customer journey

Providing customers with a connected and frictionless experience requires a full understanding of the end-to-end customer journey. Where does it start, where does it end, and what happens along the way? What are the customers’ goals, needs, and pain points at each stage of that journey?

The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.

The barriers to understanding this journey can include a lack of data and system integrations, breakdowns in process, misguided focus, and inattention to key aspects of the customer experience[1].  In a recent report produced by CXFocus, Aaron Fadelli, Senior Global Leader of Contact Centres for Flight Centre, states that the following need to be addressed:

  • Unstructured and siloed data – Siloed data leads to poor decisions and inconsistent processes. Organisations need to have a clear plan to consolidate and connect customer data across the business.
  • Lack of insight and understanding of the customer’s journey – Do your research! Understand your customers’ needs through customer feedback as well as qualitative and quantitative research wherever you can and build your journeys off this.
  • Lack of a customer-centric culture.
  • Poor Employee Experience (EX).
  • Legacy technology and unintegrated data systems that manage different channels.

The ability to identify customers and connect with their preferences as well as their past history across multiple channels and touchpoints is a significant challenge for most organisations.  Silos and lack of collaboration are major obstacles.  Perfecting the customer experience can only be achieved when people and processes are aligned with a customer-centric strategy.

Overcoming silos

Organisations can be plagued with functional and data silos across their business operations, where each team works in isolation from the other teams, unable or unwilling to work together or share customer data. Silos can greatly weaken your CX strategy and hamper your ability to provide a connected customer journey.

The decisions a brand makes concerning its customer experience strategy need to be based on analysing accurate, up-to-date, and complete customer data.  The different sources of customer data within an organisation need to be integrated to provide a single version of the truth. Data silos create multiple sources of truth that will duplicate or contradict each other. Departmental structures and policies may be in place that makes sharing data complex and time-consuming.

Ultimately, it means no one has visibility or responsibility for the entire end-to-end customer journey.

A collaborative culture is necessary as various departments across the organisation are involved in delivering the end-to-end customer journey. Rosie Mills, Experience Design Team Lead at Origin Energy, emphasises the importance of collaboration between the different business units and the integration of the different technology platforms deployed in creating connected customer journeys.

Mills says, “The most important thing is for organisations to have effective collaboration between different business units that are customer touchpoints, including visibility of the entire customer lifetime journey, as well as specific event journeys”.

She adds, “It is also imperative that the technology teams implementing the platforms are working in close collaboration with the customer support teams to have a very good understanding of not just the customer needs but also how the customer-facing staff are using the technology.”

The connected customer journey

Customers do not view their experiences with a brand as a collection of unconnected and separate. It is a cumulative and connected experience where each new interaction shapes or reshapes their opinion. It becomes crucial to understand manage the entire connected journey of the customer rather than focusing on individual touchpoints.

Phil Murphy, VP of Operations, TTEC comments, “A connected customer journey delivers streamlined, simple, and delightful experiences to customers.  When a customer interacts with a brand through any channel of their choice, the brand responds to them in a customised and personalised way that feels right and shows an accurate understanding of their intents or needs”[2].

In a recent article by CMSWire, Annette Franz highlights, “…while it’s important to look at the individual steps and touchpoints, moments of truth and channels of the experience, it’s more important to remember the whole journey, the end-to-end experience that the customer has with your brand as he’s trying to do whatever it is he’s trying to do. Focusing on the entire journey affords you the ability to design and deliver an exceptional customer experience”.

Franz emphasises the concept that journeys are not touchpoints: customers do not think in terms of touchpoints or channels, they think in terms of journeys. She says, “The customer doesn’t just think about the brand as a website or a phone call. When customers interact, they think about all of the steps that it will take to buy something or to solve a problem. And there are multiple touchpoints and steps in that experience that all need to be tied together to create a seamless journey”.

A connected customer journey can include many events and interactions that happen before, during, and after the experience of purchasing a product or service. This Journey can be long and stretched across multiple channels. It can be a short journey that’s started and finished in a matter of minutes or a journey that takes days or weeks to complete.

Organisations that fail to create connected journeys for their customers and manage the end-to-end experiences that shape the customer’s perceptions will experience:

  • Increased levels of customer churn
  • High call volumes to resolve issues and handle enquiries
  • Lower customer and employee satisfaction
  • Lost sales.

[1] Customers do not think in terms of channels – They expect a connected customer journey. Industry Report

[2] Customers do not think in terms of channelsThey expect a connected customer journey. Industry Report

Mark Atterby

Mark Atterby has 18 years media, publishing and content marketing experience.