The concept of a customer ‘journey’ is not new. These original ‘journeys’ were largely relegated to single channel views that reflected traditional business silos. Mobile journeys were run by the mobile team. Call center journeys were managed by the call center team. What is new in journeys, is the embrace of true multi-channel journeys across most industries and enterprises.
Organizations understood that they needed a way to map their understanding of customer interactions – thus journey mapping was born. Journey mapping revolves around personas – definitions developed to describe significant groups of customers to guide organizational decisions. These personas and maps inform companies about how customers interact with them. Enterprises began using journey maps to envision how personas interacted with their organizations.
Today, journey mapping provides important value including:
- A way to qualitatively compare an organization’s perceptions of how customers interact with it and where friction points exist in the journey
- Insight into customer sentiment reflected in the voice of the customer
- A canvas upon which to develop future phases of existing journeys
- A means to define broad objectives around which an organization can rally
Today, the primary question organizations need to consider is this: Are journey maps alone a sufficient foundation to drive decision-making?
No! The fundamental weakness of journey maps is that a map is built on assumptions – the company defines its customer personas and invariably includes its own preconceived notions of how, where, when, and why a customer interacts with it. Journey maps rely on hypotheses such as how we (the company) think a customer makes a payment or resolves a claim. Journey mapping products at best summarize data related to those interactions based on those preconceived notions. They are also episodic, updated perhaps quarterly or annually. One of the most common comments we hear is, “We spend all this time building our journey map, and then the map sits on a shelf.”
In other words, maps are rarely current. This is problematic as it is close to a universal truth that people can be relied on to surprise you. Often what a business expects or wants its customers to do and what people actually do are entirely different. The five people who respond to a CSAT survey may not reveal the 5 million customers who carve their own path through an organization’s services.
Companies inevitably need to go further than a journey map can take them. That is where user journey analytics comes to the forefront. Journey analytics provides a quantitative perspective without the loss of context inherent in summarizing data for mapping. By connecting and processing enormous and diverse datasets from across the entire organization, journey analytics enables an organization to come to grips with reality – an immediate and constant view of the actual activities taking place without the constraints of maps and personas.
There is a significant cost to not including user journey analytics in decision-making. How does a COO know their personas are correct? Are customers doing what the company expects? How does one ascribe benefit or ROI to an initiative that cuts across multiple channels of the business? When the organization has 15 “number one priorities,” is a gut feeling sufficient for driving change? Are smart people with vested interests in specific business silos able to consider the entire business rather than their particular area of responsibility?
The personas used in journey maps may be 100% accurate, but there is no feedback mechanism for validating them in the near-term. Journey analytics is the only method that can:
- Reveal the actual journeys that customers or employees undertake en route to an outcome, so organizations can reassess their understanding of the journey map.
- More effectively segment customers. In addition to relying on traditional attributes such as age, region, and tenure, user journey analytics makes it possible to explore actual behavior. It is possible, for example, to identify micro-segments of the population who are predisposed to respond to surveys or have an affinity for digital interaction. This makes it possible to better inform and serve those populations, and make better decisions to impact ROI.
- Quickly and repeatedly assess the effectiveness of changes suggested by journey maps.
- Enable the organization to see itself through the eyes of the customer, as a single entity, rather through the narrow lens of separate silos with individual KPIs.
- Let the data tell the journey story rather than assuming how the story has to be told.
This is not an either/or proposition. Journey mapping and journey analytics are symbiotic techniques that inform and better one another. Journey maps enable companies to see the touchpoints that people experience and offer qualitative input. Journey analytics validates or challenges these maps, revealing the reality before, during, and after that touchpoint in a way no survey can match. User journey analytics adds tangible value that enables the organization to prove answers based upon actual data and measured outcomes so that changes can be made to inform how to best cut costs, increase customer satisfaction, and improve customer lifetime value. Journey maps are good by themselves – but to be best in class – organizations must also embrace journey analytics.