A customer journey is the entirety of the experiences that a person has in direct or indirect connection with a brand – online or offline. It encompasses everything from the moment the brand is discovered, through pre-purchase activities, consumption, and the post-purchase phases, including building trust, loyalty, and advocates. It is important to realize that every customer journey can be different. It's also constantly evolving since any new interaction has the potential to reshape the journey – and one negative experience could bring it to a complete halt. Considering that and the growing expectations of customers when it comes to interacting with brands, it is crucial to make sure that each touchpoint in the customer journey can be analyzed and mapped.
Customer journey analytics and customer journey mapping are often used as synonyms, but customer journey analytics encompasses a wide range of analysis methods, of which journey mapping can only be viewed as a subset. Gartner, for instance, defines customer journey analytics as “the process of tracking and analyzing the way customers use combinations of channels to interact with an organization, that covers all current and future channels that interface directly with the customer.”
Customer journey analytics enables companies to evaluate enormous amounts of customer data collected along all customer contact points, to then search for patterns and trends in the data to generate crucial customer insights. Instead of analyzing and optimizing individual touchpoints, companies get an overall picture and can recognize where customers encounter obstacles and what influence certain company activities have on customer behavior.
Customer journey mapping and analytics differ above all:
- When mirroring complexity: customer journey analytics make it possible to map and record the complexity of today's customer journeys in an omnichannel environment. Instead of a generic view of all customers or a few personas, it offers a holistic overview of the entire journey on an individual customer basis. This enables the company to see the total number of interactions, and thus the value of each individual customer in itself.
- With regard to quantitative vs. qualitative data: while customer journey maps are usually created on the basis of small amounts of qualitative data, e.g., from user interviews or focus groups, customer journey analytics consider large amounts of quantitative data from various sources, including millions of customer interactions. A great advantage of solutions for customer journey analytics in this context is that they can include data from many different sources in different formats and different data types, and thus help companies to overcome data silos.
- Considering real-time and actionable insights: in contrast to the more static snapshots that journey maps provide, customer journey analytics generate real-time insights that can also be reacted to in real time. If you combine this analytical knowledge with marketing automation, triggers and alarms can be set up to react immediately to changing customer behavior. In addition, A/B tests can be used and the effects on the customer journey can be analyzed immediately. The collected data can also be used to predict customer behavior in real time. For example, customers who are at risk of churning can be identified and preventive measures initiated. Since you are looking at a much larger time frame than journey maps, journey analytics can also examine multiple time spans that can be used to determine how journeys and interactions change over time.
In summary, we can say that the sole use of customer journey mapping leaves many questions unanswered. In combination with the wide range of customer journey analytics methods, however, it is possible to quickly answer even complex questions, to carry out optimization measures in real time and to obtain a realistic picture of a customer's actual experience with the company. Only this depth of knowledge creates the framework for a personalized customer experience that promotes customer loyalty and ultimately business success.
By Daniela La Marca