Best Practices: Data-Mapping the Customer Experience in 2013

It’s already February and most executives are likely still recovering from the holiday sales season. However now is the time for marketing teams to start thinking like their IT counterparts and learn from their service mistakes to plan for more integrated customer engagement looking ahead to this December.

Companies now possess mountains of data about customer purchases and experiences during the 2012 holiday rush. When viewed together, these insights gathered from various service touch points – phone call, email or in-store visit –can tell a vivid story of how customers interacted with a company, and how long it took to resolve any issues. Without an accurate perspective of customers’ journey with an organization, service teams risk operating on the false assumption of successfully resolving customer inquiries without perspective on the negative service experiences they might have had with another touch point. While it might be tempting to sweep all this information under the rug until the holidays return, CMOs can use this information now to start planning for an improved 2013.

Within all that data lies a comprehensive analysis of how customers have interacted with a company. Singular touch points are one thing, but since they all typically live in operational- and technology-centric silos (call centers typically aren’t providing feedback to in-store staff), they often don’t provide the complete customer perspective of an organization. Visualizing the entire – often weaving – customer journey can enable organizations to increase customer loyalty while considering the bottom line.

A company needs to be able to uncover hidden trends among customers’ complete experiences to accurately identify broader service, product, or operational hiccups and prevent unnecessary service costs attributed to customer dissatisfaction. For example, in-store customer service representatives assume an interaction with a customer is their first; however, organizations often fail to connect in-store resolution with the five unsuccessful calls the customer may have placed before coming to the store. With customer journey management infrastructure, organizations can quickly analyze what common drivers lead to negative service experiences and develop best practices to implement across service teams holistically.

This is where close collaboration between marketing and infrastructure teams becomes so important. Although these two departments aren’t always entirely aligned, CTOs and CIOs can offer insight of their own to CMOs regarding how to best extract value from disparate service technologies to map a customer journey. That’s no small task, considering that ClickFox alone has seen the total number of disparate customer relationship management technologies within our customer base increase by 15 percent over the past year.

As organizations look to improve the customer experience, consider the following best practices:

  1. Analyze customer experience across unified data sets. Data inputs from an online chat with a customer can offer markedly different insights than a recorded phone conversation. Analyzing data from a diverse set of touch point silos is more fluid and efficient with a unified data set.
  2. Foster integration between IT, marketing and service teams. Like the silos we’re aiming to converge, the various teams within a company gather different interactions with customers. It’s important to foster collaboration and integration among the various departments to optimize the flow of data and communicate from a customer-centric point of view.
  3. Utilize metrics that drive actionable business decisions.  In order for executive teams to buy in to a customer focused initiative, it is important to highlight the financial metrics that can impact multiple departments within organizations.  Increased sales, minimized service costs, and decreased service call length can all be attributed to integrated customer experience analytics insights.
  4. Predict future behavior. Over time, customer journeys can be used to predict future behavior for negative customer experiences. For example, it’s not uncommon for multiple unresolved contact center calls to result in a profoundly negative in-store experience. Knowing how customers have behaved in the past allows organizations to more strategically allocate service resources when launching new products or services.
  5. Invest in appropriate analytics capabilities. The key learning from working with big data initiatives is having the awareness to realize when teams are operating out of a silo or from a holistic point of view. CRM technologies often come packaged with robust analytical functions, but will not offer organizations strategic insights across touch points, data sets and operational silos.

Using these five best practices as a guide, companies can drastically improve customer service and brand loyalty through journey analytics. It will require commitment across executive teams integrating disparate departments and customer-centric data, but the business value of the investment can result in precious customer experience intelligence previously unavailable to companies.

About Jeff Gossman

Jeff Gossman is vice president of marketing at ClickFox, which specializes in customer experience analytics software.