Jul 17

Customer Journey Analytics: Building a seamless omnichannel experience

by Tsvetina Chankova - Innovation Officer

With the advance of the digital world, the physical one does not retreat. Instead, alongside their new, online environments, consumers keep searching for offline interactions, human touch, values and authenticity, integrated into a fluid singular experience across all channels. The challenge for brands is to respond in kind, understand the full breadth of the omnichannel customer journeys and maintain a consistent voice in both online and offline interactions with their customers.

Technologies already allow for a great range of cross-channel innovations. In retail, offline stores use virtual panels and mobile devices to provide convenience, speed, and proximity to the purchase need. Brands like Adidas and WE offer their customers smart mirrors to share an outfit with their network and receive instant feedback, while others create completely new purchase opportunities.

Consider Tesco’s virtual store, which piloted in a South Korean subway station, later expanding throughout the country and in the UK. The company enabled customers to choose and order on their way home, transforming a wall surface into a virtual store shelf, and the waiting time into a convenient shopping occasion. On the other end of the spectrum, purely online retailer Zappos prides itself in an exceptional phone service, illustrated by countless charming stories and a record for the longest service call – 10h43m. The company turned a traditional call center KPI - resolution time – upside down to prove depth of human interaction and agent dedication. 

The combination of increasing customer path complexity in the sales and retention cycles, and the multitude of interaction channels, calls for an updated vision of customer journey insights and analytics. In our experience, companies can capitalize on three main strategies to future-proof their growth in an omni-channel environment:

1. Integrate online and offline in a broader picture of the Customer Journey. With a solid digital marketing team, online store KPIs might be well tracked – paths, clicks, conversions – but this would be just one piece of the puzzle. Did the same customer also visit another online store? Or a showroom? Did they speak to any company representatives? Understanding the steps each customer took bottom-up will help the company identify its strengths and improvement areas to realize the full customer sales or upsell potential. Online platforms, such as RecommendIT, can help track the real and granular customer paths to purchase, while recording experiences and attitudes at each step. This information provides a powerful tool to act swiftly where it matters most and build a common experience across touchpoints.

2. Use research metrics and internal data as complementary tools in the same toolbox. With a business question in mind, companies can deploy data and research selectively based on each methodology’s specific strengths. For example, companies sit on vast amounts of internal data, including product usage, transaction records, service records, and customer demographics. Using various data science methodologies, we can uncover patterns to segment or microsegment customers, predict future behaviors, or create better fitting products and services. 

Research data, on the other hand, responds to specific business questions by delving into customer attitudes, thoughts, or motivations. If a company’s internal data has pointed towards certain relationships, research can help uncover causalities, or reasons – the whys behind the behaviors. A deep dive into customer habits or practices can also lead to product or service innovations.

Finally, customers speak in places companies have no ownership or control of. By posting reviews or comments on social media and the web, customers volunteer large amounts of data on their experiences and perceptions. Text analytics tools such as Talk About It help companies capture and analyze those to reveal what customers care about, and how much influence they have in their networks.

3. Reconsider key performance indicators. Much like the Zappos example, some of the traditional KPIs have changed their meaning or methodology, while others have become obsolete. Think of the automotive industry, where the key indicator of company growth was, and still largely is, units of cars sold. However, the evolution of usage and ownership patterns, as well as value aspirations of customers, are changing this. Other indicators may now be better suited to gauge engagement with the car company, e.g. technical service use, or interactions with the car infotainment systems. In many industries, digital KPIs can supplement or even replace traditional performance metrics. GemSeek has deployed various analytics to this effect, including social media buzz (mentions), brand interest (Google Analytics), and online sentiment analyses.

Blending channels and increasing customer path complexities is not just for the customer-focused industries, either. In the energy and utilities sectors, companies have reinvented themselves into value-driven service providers. Qurrent, a Dutch energy provider, capitalizes on a green-only energy-savings consulting platform to attract customers who identify with the same purpose and values. Furthermore, industry behemoths employ the vast data gathered from energy smart meters to offer a range of more personalized services. These include energy savings tips, automated home energy management, and even online communities.
As customer data increases in complexity and volume, insights teams have the daunting task of reading it to identify the most relevant avenues for company growth. Each source they have in place is useful, but used on its own will only provide a partial picture of customer needs. Together, however, these sources combine into a powerful tool to build seamless experiences throughout the customer journey and better manage the full sales and retention cycles.