By Swati Sahai
Companies are increasingly benefiting from customer journey analytics across marketing and customer experience, as the results are real, immediate and have a lasting effect. Customer journey analytics is a lot more than a software solution—it is a whole new approach to analytics that involves having a journey-based mindset and becoming customer-obsessed. Learning how to choose the best customer journey analytics platform is just the start. The approach you take to implement customer journey analytics will make all the difference in the results that you get.
Whether you are a potential customer journey analytics user, a champion looking to introduce it in your business or a Chief Marketing Officer about to sponsor it as a project, this post will help you create a successful implementation plan.
A well-thought project implementation plan is important both to ensure your customer journey analytics platform provides the insights required by the business and so that you create the best experience for your customers by fully leveraging the customer journey analytics process and mindset.
What is the Right Time to Start Planning for Customer Journey Implementation?
Whether you’re just starting to evaluate an investment in a customer journey analytics platform or you’ve already made the decision and have chosen a vendor, it’s time to think about how to implement customer journey analytics in your organization. In either case, you likely have questions around what use cases to pick, how to create a project team and how to prepare your data.
If so, you are not alone. Customer journey analytics is a new technology and many companies are grappling with the same questions. I will endeavor to answer these questions and help you plan your customer journey analytics implementation strategically in this post.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Steps to Implement Customer Journey Analytics
1. Define the Project Scope
Start a customer journey analytics project by specifying its scope and scale. Defining the scope of a customer journey analytics project involves setting basic parameters around its size, complexity, goals, and function. The questions below will help you define the scope of your customer journey analytics project:
- Will the project be confined to a single team, such as customer experience or marketing, or will other business functions use the platform?
- What are the quantitative business goals that will influence the journey analytics project e.g., churn, retention, acquisition, cross-sell, upsell, purchase, rate of renewal etc.?
- Is your organization already aware of specific pain points and friction in your customers’ journeys?
- Are there specific journeys or micro-journeys that stakeholders or users are looking to understand better?
- Is there an analytics team in place? Do they track customer journeys? ‘Thinking in journeys’ is important when it comes to data integration for customer journey analytics, as explained in detail in step 4 below.
- Has a journey mapping exercise ever been conducted? If recent, these journey maps can provide starting points to start discovering important customer journeys.
2. Build a Team
After defining the scope, the next task is to build a team that will steer the customer journey analytics implementation project to success. The key roles within this team are:
Champion – A successful customer journey analytics project starts with the right champion. It’s that simple. A Champion is necessary to make the case for journey analytics and convince others in your organization that it is the best approach to meet their goals.
The Champion is typically an influential member of the marketing, customer experience or analytics team. They are usually someone viewed by others as a powerful and respected source of new ideas and approaches.
The Champion may or may not be the Project Manager (if not, then make sure to recruit an experienced project manager to organize the project and keep everything on track!). In either case, the Champion usually helps recruit the rest of the project team, gets all the stakeholders onboard and facilitates the entire implementation project, so that all the goals are met.
Executive Sponsor – Every successful customer journey analytics project needs an Executive Sponsor (typically Chief Marketing Officer or SVP of Customer Experience). This person is crucial in getting the initial project approved and moving it forward. He or she has both the budget and authority to approve and initiate a project of this scope and scale.
Stakeholders – The Stakeholders are typically leaders of a business unit or function (such as Director of Analytics or VP of IT), whose function or unit either benefits directly from the insights generated by customer journey analytics or will be involved in implementing it. The Stakeholders lend their support to the project from planning to finish and beyond. With their influence, the adoption of customer journey analytics becomes easier in an organization.
Users – This group of people should have some knowledge of analytics and be well-versed in organizational business processes. No background in data science is necessary. Ideally, they should be able to identify relevant questions about customer journeys and how engagement may enhance them. An example of this profile in the Marketing function would be a marketing analyst responsible for monitoring customer behavior and charged with engaging dynamic customer segments based on their demographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics.
Data Integration Resource – The Data Integration Resource is a subject-matter expert (SME) who understands all of the required data sources. They will be responsible for providing access to the necessary applications, channel systems, and customer databases. In most cases, this role is performed by an IT team member who has sufficient knowledge of pertinent data sources and how to access them.
Ensure Project Momentum
Once you have built a team and defined the scope of the project, it is important to create a sense of alignment, urgency and ownership within the members of the team.
Here’s a checklist to keep the project moving in the right direction:
3. Set Goals – What Will Success Look Like?
At the start of any project, particularly one that involves many stakeholders and has not been tried before like customer journey analytics, it is important to set goal posts and define what success will look like.
Success Metrics for the Team
Champion – It is important for the champion to understand thoroughly the value of customer journey analytics as an analytics platform and believe that the regular users have built proficiency to use the platform meaningfully on a regular basis. Ultimately, the biggest success metric for the Champion is to be able to show the Executive Sponsor and key Stakeholders that real business value has been gained through the use of customer journey analytics.
Executive Sponsor – The Executive Sponsor will likely consider the customer journey analytics project useful if it positively impacts important business metrics (such as revenue, retention, upsell etc.) and delivers meaningful ROI.
Stakeholders – The customer journey analytics deployment project will be considered a success if the Stakeholders see demonstrated value from it and believe that it will continue to generate insights that have real business value. Moreover, this business value should be applied to their specific line of business or area of interest.
Users – A customer journey analytics deployment would be considered successful from a User’s perspective when it helps them to do their job better or more easily. Milestones include when a User starts thinking in terms of journeys, can discover journeys on their own, and is able to report on desired metrics within the customer journey analytics platform. Those Users that the Stakeholders trust for unvarnished feedback should have enough hands-on experience to be able to provide meaningful feedback.
Success Metrics for the Project
Project Deployment Time – An important success metric is whether the customer journey analytics project, as defined, is completed on time. Estimate project duration by speaking with the vendors you have shortlisted and any industry consultants/analysts who may be advising you. For an effective implementation, give yourself wiggle room and plan for unforeseen delays. Once completed, compare how much time you took versus originally planned. Figure out which stages took more time than you planned and determine causes for the delay.
Training effectiveness – A customer journey analytics platform, no matter how easy and intuitive to use, will still require training for users not used to thinking in journeys. You will need to establish metrics for measuring the success of employee training. For instance, one success metric might be the number of users that discover a new journey or build a journey dashboard in a customer journey analytics platform on their own within a certain number of days after training.
Success Metrics for the Business
One of the most powerful benefits of using customer journey analytics is that it connects individual customer behavior to important quantitative metrics and KPIs that you and your business are measured by. The key lies in selecting the right metrics and KPIs to monitor and improve, based on the insights generated by your customer journey analytics platform. Pick a mix of financial, customer and operational metrics. Good examples of each would be:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS),
- Customer Satisfaction Score(CSAT) or
- Customer Effort Score(CES)
[Handpicked related content: How to measure customer experience beyond NPS]
- First Call Resolution (FCR)
- Revenue Growth
- Churn Rate
- Upsell and Cross-sell Revenue Growth
4. Create a Data Integration Plan
Data integration is the backbone on which a successful implementation rests. It can make or break your customer journey analytics project. Before we get into the details of how to plan for a smooth and successful data integration, it is helpful to understand the basics behind it.
How to Select Your Initial Customer Data Sources
Whether you’re working with a consulting firm, agency or the vendor’s customer success team for implementation, it is important to understand and determine the customer data sources that you want integrated into the journey analytics platform in order to get the insights required.
Thinking in Events
The fundamental data type for customer journey analytics is the event. Regardless of how you might think of data today, in customer journey analytics everything is an event. An event-based approach captures every addition or change to customer data that occurs, whether from a customer interaction, an employee action, an automated workflow process, etc. Treating every change to customer data as an event saves work for data engineers, as no transformation is required.
The Types of Events
Before getting into details of the structure of event data, it is useful to understand 4 general types of events. These are simply helpful patterns to consider when selecting data:
Interactions initiated by the customer at a touchpoint, e.g.
- View Web Page
- Submit Survey
- Call Support Center
- Pay Bill
Interactions initiated by your company to communicate with a customer, e.g.
- Email Sent
- Promotion Offered
- Direct Mail Sent
- Outbound Sales Call
Internal actions not necessarily seen by the customer, which nonetheless influence the customer experience, e.g.
- Package Fulfillment
Profile, Stage, or Status Updates
Snapshots of data captured by your company – typically descriptive of the customer, e.g.
- Profile Update
- Contract Update
Most data, no matter what form it is in today, can be readily transformed into one of these 4 types of events.
The three components that define an event are the event type, a customer identifier, and a timestamp for when the event occurred:
- Event Type: A short description, typically 1-3 words, describing the nature of the event.
- Customer Identifier: Any information which can be used to identify an individual customer.
- Event Time: The time that the event took place.
Is My Data Ready for Integration?
The most frequent concern when preparing to embark on a customer journey analytics project is how long it will take you to get your data in the right shape.
The answer may surprise you. Your data may be ready right now—without any additional preparation—depending on the customer journey analytics platform you choose. If efficient data integration is important to you, make sure to evaluate whether your journey analytics platform accepts data in all formats and does not require you to perform aggregations, schema mapping or any others data transformations before passing on the data.
How the Pointillist Customer Journey Analytics Platform Enables Smooth Data Integration
Raw data can be sent directly to Pointillist without requiring aggregations or roll-ups of any kind. Pointillist can handle data in all forms, whether it is in tables, excel files, server logs, or 3rd party APIs.
Getting Data into Pointillist
There are three ways to get data into Pointillist:
Batch Upload: Pointillist provides an SFTP endpoint unique to your company. Data in any format may be uploaded to this endpoint. During onboarding, the data will remain on your Pointillist-hosted SFTP server until the customer success team has created and quality-checked the requisite ingestion script. This process typically takes 1-2 days.
3rd Party APIs: Pointillist has a large number of connectors using 3rd party APIs. Depending on the level of customization, 3rd party APIs can be used to integrate your data in anywhere from a few days to a week or two.
Pointillist Web Tag and Mobile SDK: Pointillist’s journey tracking tools can be readily instrumented on your website and in mobile apps for any platform. Even in cases where you have existing tracking tools in place for these channels (e.g. Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics), deploying Pointillist can aid in cross-channel customer tracking.
How Do You Ensure Data Quality?
Data quality is critical to trusting the output of the customer journey analytics platform, and ultimately extracting value from an investment into this project. Whether you’re working with a consulting firm, agency or the vendor’s customer success team, ensure that your service provider takes data quality seriously and adheres to a strict QA process throughout integration and beyond by the following steps:
Rigorous checks at each stage of ingestion – From the initial check of raw data to the completed ingestion of data into the customer journey analytics platform, the service provider should complete a thorough set of standardized checks every step of the way.
Comparison with Benchmark KPIs – A world-class service provider will ask you to provide benchmark KPIs for any dataset where accuracy is especially critical. The analytics results produced by the customer journey platform should be measured against these KPIs.
Changeable data – The customer journey analytics platform you choose should allow data to be readily updated. Any issues that are identified may be remedied on an ongoing basis according to urgency and the availability of improved source data.
Monitoring and automated alerts for substantial data deviations – The service provider should ideally employ an automated monitoring and alert system to inform you of substantial deviations in data – such as missing time coverage or interruption of 3rd party data streams.
5. Identify Key Use Cases
It is important to identify a use case that addresses the most significant pain points being faced by your business. At the same time, be mindful that you are addressing the problems being faced by all the stakeholders involved in the customer journey analytics project.
How to Pick Your Use Cases?
To help you pick the best use cases for your initial implementation, here is a framework that describes six types of customer journey analytics use cases in order of increasing complexity. Most business problems that you want to solve or questions that you want to ask would fit in one of these six types.
6. Build Organizational Readiness for Customer Journey Analytics
Customer journey analytics is worth all the time, effort and resources you invest in it, but to get its full potential you have to integrate it seamlessly within your organization. This integration goes far beyond technology and data and involves your people and culture. Customer journey analytics is a discipline, not a technology, and to truly reap its benefits, you need to build organizational readiness.
It’s likely that multiple departments and teams will be affected by the results of customer journey analytics, so it’s important that they understand and support the initiative. This is where the support and influence of your stakeholders will come in very handy as their enthusiasm will rub off on other employees.
Start by holding a series of meetings where employees can get answers to questions such as:
- What is customer journey analytics?
- How can it help our business?
- Specific details around training and implementation
Establish a Space for Employees to Learn and Collaborate
Create an online space using a collaboration tool such as Slack, where employees can ask questions, share results and access resources. Seed the site with educational materials to allow employees unfamiliar with customer journey analytics to get up to speed quickly. Here are a few to get you started:
- Customer Journey Analytics 101 (eBook)
- 5 Ways Customer Journey Analytics Can Impact Your Business Today
- Improve Your Martech Stack With Customer Journey Analytics
- How to Improve Customer Experience Using Journey Analytics
Instill a Journey-based Mindset Throughout Your Organization
Company culture is a set of shared values throughout the organization and you can influence it over time by instilling a journey-based mindset throughout your organization. Articulate the importance of focusing on end-to-end customer journeys as opposed to single touchpoint interactions. Appreciate that this is a long-term effort and while some early adopters will be immediately enthusiastic, others may take longer.
As you start seeing results from customer journey analytics, share the insights with others who can benefit from them.
Compile a repository of important customer journeys, their key drivers and the metrics related to them. As you share this information across the organization, you will build adoption and organizational readiness for customer journey analytics.
Training is a critical piece of making sure your organization is ready to successfully implement customer journey analytics. To ensure adoption and usage of your new customer journey analytics platform, make sure the users are properly trained.
Training is most successful when conducted in-person but if that is not an option, a live webinar would work too. Groups of 2 to 5 users are ideal so the trainer can provide personal attention to each user.
Be sure to map out your training plan with the vendor in advance, keeping in mind the schedule of your users. In addition to the initial training, also plan for some ongoing training in case your users encounter some difficulty.
Large enterprises typically have a central governance team in place that is responsible for setting project quality standards, fostering communications and sharing best practices. The governance board is responsible for increasing the success rate of customer journey analytics projects undertaken by the organization, while at the same time taking into account the risks involved. The Executive Sponsor is usually the point person accountable to the governance team although the champion may be involved in keeping the governance team updated on project progress at regular, predetermined intervals.
7. Pick the Right Customer Journey Analytics Platform For Your Organization
Now it’s time to invest in a good customer journey analytics platform that will meet all your needs and be the right fit for your organization.
But if you’ve spent some time evaluating the different options available in the market, you would have likely come to the conclusion that customer journey analytics is not a monolithic approach designed to address a single problem. Instead there are a variety of problems that can be solved with customer journey analytics. Therefore, even the best platforms do not include identical sets of capabilities, nor do they prioritize those capabilities in the same way.
So how do you pick a platform in such a scenario?
The key to making a good choice is to clearly understand and prioritize your business needs and then use them as a basis for determining the best customer journey analytics platform for you.
Here’s a cheatsheet to help you prioritize the customer journey analytics capabilities that are aligned with your particular business needs:
[Handpicked related content: How to Pick the Best Customer Journey Platform for Your Needs]
Decide Whether to do a Pilot
Some large companies, depending on budget and scope, prefer a phased implementation that starts with a paid pilot or proof of concept. Running a paid pilot helps ensure that the project is properly resourced and prioritized by your internal team, including your stakeholders. By implementing customer journey analytics at a smaller scale first, it provides a large enterprise with an opportunity to identify any implementation or organizational challenges early, before moving on to enterprise-wide adoption.
By documenting the lessons learnt during the pilot, ironing out hiccups on a smaller spectrum and testing out the effectiveness of your planned process, you can make more effective decisions about resources.
However, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The decision to conduct a paid pilot depends upon your company size, project scope, internal processes and governance.
8. Develop Journey-Based Insights
Whether you’ve decided to do a Pilot or jump right into a more comprehensive implementation, a critical first step is to ensure your users have the confidence to use the customer journey analytics platform on their own to perform meaningful analyses and identify opportunities for improvement.
This is the time to dive into the most important use cases you had identified as a team in Step 5 of this implementation plan. [How to Successfully Implement Customer Journey Analytics – Part 1]
Discover Real Customer Journeys
All the hard work that you have done up until this point is now ready to start bearing fruit. You have chosen the customer journey analytics platform and integrated customer data from different sources, your users are trained and ready to go—it is now time to start discovering real customer journeys.
You could, for example, begin by testing journey hypotheses that you have previously built, perhaps as an outcome of a journey mapping process conducted by your customer experience team.
Sophisticated customer journey analytics platforms with highly visual interfaces can help you discover real journeys in minutes, simply by dragging and dropping relevant ‘customer events’ on to a journey canvas. This creates highly accurate visualizations of high-impact, micro- and macro-level customer journeys without any data science or coding expertise.
Top Telecom Provider Rapidly Quantifies ROI with Pointillist
A large, top 5 U.S. telecom provider made a major investment in customer outreach, the likes of which they had not done before. They quickly reached a critical point where they needed to quantify the Return on Investment in order to decide whether to expand, contract or stop further investment in the customer outreach. They needed sophisticated analytical features in a short time and hence employed the Pointillist customer journey analytics platform.
Pointillist integrated customer data rapidly and easily into the platform—onboarding 4 billion events (or data points) across 8 enterprise datasets in 2 weeks, 4 calls and 14 emails.
Within a few days of data integration the customer experience team was able to uncover customer journeys on their own, without the assistance of data scientists or IT team.
Pointillist enabled the telecom company to quantify the returns from the customer outreach investment, both in terms of ticket resolution rates and NPS scores. Using Pointillist, they determined that due to the new customer outreach program, NPS scores had gone up by 5 points and there was a significant boost in ticket resolution rates.
With this insight, the telecom provider was able expand the application of messaging and continue its investment in the outreach program.
Track Key Metrics in Real-time and Over Time
At this stage, go back and look at the business metrics you had targeted for impact at the time of setting goal. Make sure your journey discovery process has covered those key metrics and you have started tracking those key metrics and KPIs in real time in your journey analytics platform.
This will provide a quantitative link between customer behavior and hard metrics like revenue, profitability, churn, acquisition rate, etc. that measure the health of your business and the performance of your teams.
Create interactive dashboards within the journey analytics platform to present these insights on key metrics to stakeholders and executives on a regular basis.
9.Use Customer Journey Analytics to Drive Actions
Next, look for opportunities to make your insights actionable. Here are three ways to do it:
Using the important customer journeys you have created in your customer journey analytics platform, look for places to employ journey orchestration to automate real-time interactions, drive desirable outcomes that will impact your KPIs.
By embedding triggers at any point along the customer journey, you can automatically initiate next-best actions in real time across all of your customer touchpoints. For example, a bank can automate sending an acknowledgement email when a customer successfully deposits a check through a mobile app (a defined point in the customer journey), from within the customer journey analytics platform. This journey orchestration is made possible through a seamless integration of the customer’s journey across the mobile app and email platform.
Using journey analytics data, you can deliver real-time personalized engagement, which improve customer experiences by incorporating each customer’s individual preferences, as well as their recent interactions with your company. Examples include using customer journey data to personalize website content in real-time and dynamically populating contents of an upsell email based on customer activity data generated through journey analytics.
Customer journey analytics is a powerful tool that enables you not only to discover and analyze real customer journeys, but also to improve them.
Journey optimization is a closed loop approach that combines journey discovery with journey orchestration. AI and machine learning are often employed to more rapidly evaluate alternatives and choose a method of interacting with each customer that maximizes the speed and probability that they will achieve a specific goal, based on their own unique journey.
Journey optimization can be achieved by employing a test-and-learn approach that explores all of the contributing factors—touchpoints, people, training, process, communication, metrics, and technology—that can lead to opportunities to improve the journey. One advantage of journey optimization is that it enables you to validate (or invalidate) ideas faster and more accurately.
10. Measure Success
It is now time to revisit Step 3, Setting Goals and Measuring Success. Evaluate your progress to date against each of your success categories—Team, Project and Business.
Have the key members of your team started to derive the value from customer journey analytics? Remember though that this is a start, and the objective should be to begin seeing results.
Evaluate whether the project deployment time met the original estimate or exceeded it. (Pat yourself on the back if you managed to deploy before time!) In case of a delay, spend some time determining the reasons.
Take feedback from users and their managers on the effectiveness of the training given on the customer journey analytics platform, once the users have become accustomed to using it. Establish metrics for measuring the success of the training.
The impact of customer journey analytics on quantitative business metrics is really powerful. Measuring this impact is also made easy by the platform. Make sure you build dashboards and track these KPIs regularly to measure how the implementation of insights generated by journey analytics is moving the needle on financial, customer and operational metrics.
11. Elevate, Scale and Promote Your Customer Journey Analytics Program
Include New Data Sources
Adding new data from different sources lets companies expand the depth and breadth of their analyses. For instance, you can connect data from sources like surveys, social media, web chat, and products to better understand journeys and life events, segment customer behaviors, and gain in-depth strategic insights.
Spread the Word About Your Successes
At the end of a successfuli implementation, it is important to talk and educate others about its success. This will bring visibility, support, and hopefully more budget. Remember to lead with quantifiable results and insights as your audience really cares about impact.
Build a Roadmap for Future Improvements
Stimulate discussion on the next round of marketing or CX improvements by building a Journey Atlas that shows all your key customer journeys. Make your journey atlas available throughout your organization and regularly refine it by adding new customer journeys and updating existing ones.
With these detailed steps in hand, you now have the framework to plan, organize and start implementing customer journey analytics within your organization. Be armed with knowledge, be prepared and set yourself and your organization up for success with customer journey analytics.