Beyond journey mapping: effectively analysing the customer journey

07 Jun 2021  |  by Kristina Kramer

An outline of the differences between customer journey mapping and customer journey analytics.

Customer loyalty is no longer based on price or product quality only. For today’s customers, experience is everything – organisations need to deliver seamless, secure, effortless, and personalised experiences at all times and across all channels. 

According to a recent report by Salesforce, 84% of customers say that the experience an organisation provides is as important as its product or services. Delivering a compelling customer experience has therefore become a top priority for businesses over the last couple of years and continues to be in 2021. 

However, to provide an outstanding customer experience that creates a competitive advantage, it is fundamental to fully understand each customer’s individual journey with the business, including all relevant touchpoints and potential obstacles. Customer journey mapping is a widely used method to understand these touchpoints and how customers are moving between them.

In this article, we take a closer look at customer journey mapping and show what else is needed to lay the analytical base for successfully optimising the customer journey and, ultimately, experience.

What is customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visualisation of every interaction a customer has with a product, service, or brand. It’s a common method that organisations use to see their business from the customer’s perspective.

To create a customer journey map, all potential touchpoints between a business and its customers and prospects are mapped out. These can range from online channels such as social media, website, or a display ad, to various offline channels such as stores, a print mailing or a friend’s recommendation. User journeys that connect the different touchpoints in the order a customer is likely to experience them during its entire lifecycle are created – from initial awareness to pre-purchase activities, purchase, and post-purchase stages. A common practice is to create different journeys for different persona types.

What are the limitations of customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping is considered as a standard practice and a great starting point to better understand how customers interact with an organisation and move between touchpoints. It’s very useful for internal communications to align employees in becoming a more customer-centric organisation. However, it doesn’t provide the full picture of the actual customer journey due to a variety of reasons:

Representative view

Even if journeys of different persona types are mapped out, these present only a small, representative fragment of the actual journeys taking place. It’s important to acknowledge that each customer’s journey is unique. If you have thousands or even millions of customers, this means thousands and millions of different journeys.

As personalisation is considered as one of the key drivers of customer experience, a more granular view of the individual journey is required.

Subjective in nature

Customer journey maps are usually created by an organisation’s employees. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that we know our customers better than we actually do. Therefore, journey maps often suffer from bias and represent an ideal or perceived journey rather than a realistic one. This makes it difficult to identify actual obstacles within the journey.

Not dynamic

Customer journey maps represent the customer journey at a certain point in time. However, it’s very difficult to reflect the ever-changing market environment and customer needs with the rather static approach of customer journey mapping. This becomes particularly evident when looking at the impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on customer behaviour. According to recent research by Adobe, 56% of existing customers changed the way they are researching and buying a product. In addition, over 50% changed the average value of their basket and are now interested in different products than before. Whilst the pandemic is an obvious event that affected basically everyone, there are a lot of other events that might equally affect an individual’s journey, which leads us back to the importance of personalisation along their chosen route.

Lack of actionable insights

Due to the generic nature of journey mapping, it’s difficult to execute specific actions whilst an individual customer has already started the journey. This affects, for example, recognising and preventing churn.

The significance of these limitations is confirmed by research from Gartner which found that although 82% of organisations are using customer journey maps, only 47% were able to use them effectively and see a return on investment from the time taken to create them.

Overcoming the limitations with customer journey analytics

To overcome these limitations, it’s important to understand the difference between customer journey mapping and customer journey analytics.

Often referred to as synonyms, customer journey analytics encompasses a wide array of analytical methods, of which journey mapping can be considered a subset. Gartner defines customer journey analytics as “the process of tracking and analysing the way customers use combinations of channels to interact with an organisation covering all channels present and future which interface directly with customers”.

Customer journey analytics allows organisations to analyse vast volumes of customer data that are collected along all customer touchpoints, search for patterns and trends within this data, and generate decisive customer insights. Instead of analysing and optimising individual touchpoints, this provides organisations with a full picture and enables them to identify where customers encounter friction and which impact company activities have on customer behaviour.

The meaningfulness of these insights is confirmed by a recent survey by Forrester among 203 Customer Experience and MarTech decision makers – over 51% ranked enhanced customer insights as one of the biggest success factors in improving customer experience.

How do customer journey mapping and analytics differ?

Reflecting the complexity

Customer journey analytics allows businesses to reflect and grasp the complexity of today’s customer journeys in an omni-channel environment. Instead of one generic view of all customers or a few personas, it provides a holistic overview over the entire journey on an individual customer basis. Thus, it enables organisations to see the total amount of interactions and understand the value of each customer for the business.

Quantitative vs. qualitative data

Whereas customer journey maps are usually created based on small sets of qualitative data, for example from user interviews or focus groups, customer journey analytics considers vast amounts of quantitative data from different sources, including millions of customer interactions. A major benefit of customer journey analytics solutions in this context is that they can incorporate data from many different sources in different formats and different data types, and therefore help organisations to overcome the obstacle of data silos.

Real-time and actionable insights

In contrast to the rather static snapshot journey maps provide, customer journey analytics delivers insights in real time to act also upon in real time. Combining these analytical insights with marketing automation, triggers and alerts can be established to immediately react to changing customer behaviour.

Moreover, A/B testing can be employed and effects on the customer journey immediately analysed. The collected data can also be used to predict customer behaviour on a real-time basis. For example, churn can be recognised and preventive actions executed. Considering a much wider time frame than journey maps, journey analytics allows also for time serial analyses and thus to identify how journeys and interactions are changing over time.

Delivering enhanced customer experiences

In conclusion, we can see that using customer journey mapping on its own leaves many questions unanswered. However, combined with the wider array of customer journey analytics capabilities, it’s possible to quickly answer very complex questions, execute optimisation measures in real-time and provide a realistic picture of a customer’s actual experience with the business. Only this depth of insight provides the environment to deliver a personalised customer experience that drives customer loyalty and, ultimately, business success.

Download our free eGuide to learn more about customer journey analytics and the steps that need to be taken to successfully implement it within your organisation.

Kristina Kramer

Online Marketing Specialist

Kristina Kramer joined Apteco at the beginning of 2019. As online marketing specialist, her responsibilities include taking care of our website and various social media channels as well as the Apteco blog.

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