by Steve Offsey
Companies are benefiting from customer journey analytics across marketing and customer experience, as the results are real, immediate and have a lasting effect. In this post, I’ll illustrate five ways you can use customer journey analytics to provide an immediate impact to your business through real use cases covering a variety of industries.
What is Customer Journey Analytics?
Customer journey analytics turns the millions of interactions your customers have across all of your touchpoints into journeys from your customers’ point of view. It’s a data-driven approach to discovering, analyzing and influencing your customers’ journeys. Customer journey analytics is a powerful tool that enables marketers and customer experience professionals to understand customer behavior and engage with individual customers on a personal level, at scale.
If you’re unfamiliar with customer journey analytics or are looking for a quick way to explain it to your colleagues, you can take a deeper dive by reading What is customer Journey Analytics?
Here are 5 ways that real companies in a variety of industries are using customer journey analytics to impact their businesses:
1. Improve Customer Experience
We are living in the age where ‘customer experience’ is truly the king. From customer service to marketing to even the boardroom, it has now been widely acknowledged that customer experience has a direct link to revenue and increased shareholder value.
Monitoring Individual Touchpoints Isn’t Enough
Companies have traditionally looked to improve customer experience by focusing on particular touch points. But it’s only when you look at a customer journey in its entirety across channels and over time, that real pain points—and therefore opportunities for positive impact—arise.
Customer journey analytics steps in and delivers by building a unified view of customers as they interact with your brand across multiple touchpoints, locations and in real-time. It reveals the paths that your most satisfied customers take. It also uncovers the bottlenecks to a consistent and high-quality customer experience. Using customer journey analytics, you can find paths that lead to a desired action, as well as those paths that typically don’t lead to that action.
A recent McKinsey study found that “performance on journeys is substantially more strongly correlated with customer satisfaction than performance on touchpoints—and performance on journeys is significantly more strongly correlated with business outcomes such as revenue, churn, and repeat purchase.”
An Insurer Benefits from Customer Journeys
An insurance company did a deep study of customer journeys and found a major operational inefficiency in the way it handled the claim filing process for customers who suffered an automobile accident. The process of filing claims was long and tedious, with a number of lengthy interactions required with the loss adjuster. This led to high customer dissatisfaction, so the insurer invested the time to understand and analyze their customer’s journey.
To resolve this customer experience hurdle, they created a new mobile app, which reduced the time to complete the entire claim filing process to a matter of minutes. The app sends messages to customers, updating them on the status of their claim and providing real-time processing and cash payout. The insurer even went a step further and enabled customers to directly make appointments with repair shops using the app.
The insurer found that taking care of a distressed customer in the wake of an accident was an opportunity to build loyalty and reduce claims payouts by recommending preferred repair services. Providing customers with a better experience over their entire journey—from identifying the cause of damage to finding a repair provider to paying the bill—provided a valuable point of differentiation in an industry where differentiation is hard to achieve through products alone.
Employ Personalization to Improve Customer Experience
Leading companies, such as Amazon and Kenneth Cole, are reconfiguring their entire websites in real-time by studying customer journeys and offering personalization. While you may see more videos and product reviews on visiting those sites, I may see entirely different product offers and images based on my preferences and past interactions with the brand.
Most companies are still struggling with how to personalize the customer experience and deliver it on an individual level, at scale. Most personalization efforts fall flat because they are superficially driven by demographic information—rather than each customer’s unique journey—and hence do not inspire customers to take desired actions.
L’Oreal’s Personalization App Drives Millions Of Users
An article in the Harvard Business Review describes how L’Oréal effectively employs personalization through its Makeup Genius app. It lets customers apply makeup virtually by utilizing technology to photograph a customer’s face and analyzing it to reveal which products and shades would look best on a particular face. Customers can then buy the product instantly online or order it and pick it up from a store.
According to the authors, “L’Oréal has created an enjoyable experience that quickly and seamlessly leads the customer along the path from consideration to purchase and, as the degree of personalization increases, into the loyalty loop. With 14 million users already, the app has become a critical asset both as a branded channel for engaging with customers and as a fire hose of incoming information on how customers engage.”
2. Accelerate New Customer Acquisition
Customer journey analytics makes it easy to uncover high-impact journeys that result in a purchase. Marketing can leverage this information, as well as an understanding of product preferences, customer lifestyles and behavior, into campaigns that increase new customer acquisition. Whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers, reaching out to prospective customers at the right moment, through their preferred channel, with a customized offer, results in higher conversion rates.
Nordstrom Uses Multi-channel Journey Insights to Acquire Millions of New Customers
Today’s consumer purchase journeys are inherently multi-channel. So it’s no surprise that omnichannel integration is the No. 1 priority for retailers in North America at the point of sale, according to a 2017 report from Boston Retail Partners and Manhattan Associates.
Nordstrom, for example, made a company-wide decision not to obsess over where a customer buys, as long as she continues buying from one or more of Nordstrom’s many brands and channels.
Customers are loyal to experiences not channels, according to James Nordstrom, President of Stores. “We don’t hear customers talk about channels very much. Customers value experiences, and so the more successful we’re at in creating a great shopping experience, no matter how they’re choosing to shop, I think the better our business will be.”
As a result, Nordstrom leverages its entire, cross-channel customer journey to accelerate new customer acquisition: “The Rack business now represents our biggest source of new customers, attracting around four million in 2014.” Nordstrom explained that “the Rack also serves as an entry point to the Nordstrom brand providing opportunities for customers to cross-shop. For example, last year, we had one million Rack customers start to shop at our full-line stores or nordstrom.com for the first time.”
3. Reduce Customer Churn
Customer experience professionals are using customer journey analytics to improve their ability to identify at-risk customers and reduce churn. By gaining a data-driven understanding of customer preferences and the best ways to reduce friction in particular situations, experience teams can more easily identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement.
A Leading Teleco Uses Customer Journey Analytics to Improve Customer Retention
Customer churn is particularly troubling for the telecom industry due to slim margins and saturated markets. At any point in the customer journey, telecom customers are only a click away from switching to a competitor if they are not happy with the level of customer service provided.
Telecom companies are now using customer journey analytics to pinpoint problem areas such as customer care calls and analyze how to improve them or provide alternatives via self-help methods. This has resulted in improved NPS (Net Promoter Scores) and lower cost to serve.
As described in Deloitte’s 2017 Retail, Wholesale, And Distribution Industry Outlook Report, a leading US-based wireless provider used customer journey analytics to determine the probability of a customer calling in for a certain support issue across all online support channels. Agents now proactively know what issues need to be resolved, how the subscriber tried to address the issues, and how best to deliver an improved customer experience.
After operationalizing customer journey analytics, the time customers spent in the interactive voice response unit (IVR) decreased by 67 percent. This had a positive impact on customer satisfaction index (CSAT) and customer effort (CES) scores, customer retention rates and top-line revenue. According to Deloitte, a one-half of one percent increase in customer churn or retention is worth an estimated $1.3 billion in revenue to this telecommunications company. In addition, the company reduced call center volumes by 30 percent which saved 15 dollars per call without negatively impacting service levels.
4. Maximize Customer Lifetime Value
Customer journey analytics uncovers the factors underlying Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) such as acquisition channels, average purchase price, customer experience and retention methods. Using this analysis, companies can identify and activate the best paths to maximize CLV.
Customer Journey analytics can quickly reveal the journeys that your highest value customers take. You can find, for example, specific interactions—such as a loyalty program offer or a personalized email after a large-ticket purchase—that lead to high loyalty signups and over time, increased repeat purchases.
This piece of intelligence helps marketers in crafting specific, unique communications that make a high-value customer feel special. Moreover, customer journey analytics can significantly improve your ability to reach out at the right time with the right offer.
On the flip side, you can use customer journey analytics to find those particular touch points that prove to be an obstacle, such as a call to the call center to do manual signup, at which point most customers are abandoning their journey. A deeper investigation may reveal that the average wait times for the call center are higher than industry standards. Now you can take remedial steps and monitor the journey to see if there have been improvements in signup rates.
A Wine Accessories Company Uses Customer Journey Analytics to Increase Customer LTV
A premium wine accessories company used customer journey analytics to improve loyalty program registrations, increase cross-channel engagement and build long-term customer relationships, as the majority of their profit comes from repeat purchases rather than the initial sale. In this way, they hoped to increase the lifetime value (LTV) of their brick-and-mortar customers and position the company for continued growth.
The marketing team used customer journey analytics to analyze millions of point-of-sale transactions and connect them with loyalty program registrations, email responses and online behavior. They discovered how the customer journey differed for each buyer persona and identified the optimum paths each followed from engagement to loyalty and repeat purchases.
Using customer journey analytics, the company quickly discovered which marketing campaigns were most effective at turning their in-store customers into repeat, online customers. Ultimately, they discovering the programs that most increased engagement, improved loyalty and contributed to building long term relationships with their customers—all of which ultimately contributed to a significant increase in customer LTV and continued revenue growth.
5. Boost Your Return on Marketing (ROMI)
CMO spending on technology continues to increase. According to the 2016-2017 CMO Spend Survey from Gartner Research, 27% of the marketing expense budget is now allocated to technology, or 3.24% of revenue. That’s higher than what CMOs spend on paid media (22%) and almost on par with labor (28%).
While marketers are adding technology at a furious pace, many of these technologies are way underutilized. Customer journey analytics platforms can unify and improve the effectiveness of existing marketing technology stacks.
Customer journey analytics platforms collect data from every touchpoint as customers interact with companies across multiple channels, over time. This includes data from website (pages viewed, forms submitted, etc.), CRM (demographic information, account-level information, etc.) call center (call reason, call issue, handling time), e-commerce and point-of-sale systems (transaction value, product selection etc.), email (sent, opened, clicked) and many other sources.
Once you’ve discovered the most important journeys, the next step is to deliver personalized experiences using your existing marketing tools based on each customer’s individual behavior. The unique engagement needs of each individual customer can be met by defining triggers at key points of the most important journeys to enable engagement through the optimal touchpoint using your existing marketing stack.
Starbucks Uses Customer Behavior to Attain Threefold Improvement in Email Response Rates
Starbucks has been leading the way in integrating disparate technologies to provide a consistent customer experience worldwide and significantly increase Marketing ROI in the process.
Starbucks has made changes to everything from their rewards program to food and drink suggestions. Their martech stack spans the entire customer journey and takes into account everything from individual product preferences and weather data to buying patterns and even incorporates third-party information. They redesigned their email program to automatically create 400,000 personalized versions of emails every week, leading to a threefold improvement in response rates.
“Each email,” says Gerri Martin-Flickinger, Starbucks’ Chief Technology Officer, “is uniquely generated based on every individual customer’s behaviors and anticipated behaviors. The real-time personalization engine uses a lot of different inputs. Some of those are very specific to the individual, like their preferences, their buying patterns, but others are very contextual, like weather . . . or third-party data that gives us information that may be helpful to our algorithm. . . . This tends to drive up ticket and transactions.”
Now It’s Your Turn
Today, leading companies are increasingly thinking in terms of end-to-end customer journeys and using customer journey analytics to understand behaviors and shape experiences. This is leading to differentiation from competitors, higher customer satisfaction scores, better return on marketing investment, increased upsell/cross-sell and ultimately higher revenue.
The examples discussed here show that a wide variety of industries are using customer journey analytics to reach their business goals. As a recent McKinsey article concludes, “delivering a distinctive journey experience makes it more likely that customers repeat a purchase, spend more, recommend to their friends, and stay with your company.”