Most companies now know that customer experience is the main driver of business performance, so modern brands are putting their customers at the heart of everything they do. CX has become the main battleground for competition, and organizations aren’t keeping the purse strings tight when it comes to experience spending — IDC reports that this year, worldwide spending on CX technologies will reach a whopping $508 billion. That upward trajectory isn’t likely to abate any time soon, either. IDC expects CX tech spending to rocket to $641 billion by 2022. Understanding your customers’ entire journey with your brand and serving the right interaction at the right time — based on historical context — is a foundational element of positive customer experience. Customer journey management is an evolving discipline, but whether done through homegrown tools or a third-party solution, businesses are recognizing the direct link between journey measurement and CX.
A new report from Forrester, however, points out a yawning gap in the journey management domain — one that leaves brands shooting blind when it comes to diagnosing CX problems: there hasn’t traditionally been an effective way to measure customer journeys. There are plenty of ways to measure CX — NPS scores, customer feedback, surveys, sentiment analysis — but tying those larger results systematically to specific touchpoints in the customer journey has remained elusive.
“CX pros face a new challenge,” write Forrester’s Maxie Schmidt-Subramanian and Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha. “They must measure whether customer journeys are successful. Why? To more effectively prioritize CX improvement efforts and gauge whether those efforts are working.”
Put more simply, today’s Marketing and Customer Experience professionals have no good way of knowing whether the customer journeys they implement are effective or deliver any value — to either the customer or the organization. There is, however, a solution. You just need to reframe your thinking and your frameworks.
Thinking in Steps
The reason there hasn’t been an effective method to measure customer journeys is that there isn’t a shared language from one end of the journey to the other. The metrics for success at one part of the journey — downloading a whitepaper, say — are completely different than other parts, like speaking to an agent in a call center. Without a common framework, there’s a disparity between the two stages, and accurate and consistent measures of effectiveness are painstaking to make. It’s also easy to drown in data, analyzing every click, keystroke, and action a customer takes. The question becomes not how to gather data about your customers — you already have it — but how to make sense of it and put it to use.
The key comes in reimagining the framework — making the journey steps themselves the foundation for measurement. Let’s pause for a minute here and define what we’re talking about when we talk about journey steps. Think about a molecule as opposed to an atom. Each customer interaction is equivalent to an atom. Taken together, different compositions of those interactions come together to form journey steps. Imagine a customer service center call that saved a customer from unsubscribing to your service. That is a journey step, but it’s composed of several smaller possible interactions — a visit to your contact us page, review of cancellation terms, a possible interaction with a chatbot, and finally, the actual call, and potential rewards or benefits passed along to the customer.
By using those journey steps as the foundational element of your journey mapping and journey analytics activities, you can better understand the relationships between touchpoints and analyze entire customer trajectories. When you tie journey step analysis to actual business results, you can help execs view customer journey performance in terms of measurable and action-oriented insights.
Implementing the Framework
The first step is to identify the actual steps that will serve as your measurable journey steps. You want to avoid getting too granular. Ensure that your steps are benchmarks that make sense to both your organization and the customer — a customer should notice that they have completed a journey step, and completion should represent actual traction along the customer journey.
When designing a measurement framework and delineating journey steps, keep your customer’s end goal in mind — make the desired next step in the customer journey one that they want to take. It helps here to undertake some journey discovery exercises, analyzing current and ideal paths for customers to move along their journeys.
When you’ve established your journey steps and enabled analysis, you can actually prove the value of your customer journey programs. Having a shared language and measurement framework across all of your customer journeys makes reporting easy and speeds optimization cycles. Most importantly, however, it allows you to truly understand the business impacts of journey management, finally closing the journey management blind spot.