Customer journey (aka customer engagement journey) is a term much bandied about in discussions about customer service, but what exactly does it mean? The answer, it seems is not straightforward.
As this article from Call Center IQ, headed What Exactly Is The "Customer Engagement Journey put it: “Ask a thought leader about the biggest customer management trends, and you’ll likely hear talk about the ‘customer engagement journey’. Ask a thought leader to articulate precisely what that journey entails, and you’ll likely encounter silence.”
A report from the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) seems to offer a more promising avenue to answer the question. It’s titled Seizing the Moments: The Insider’s Guide to Perfecting the Customer Journey.
However it seems to believe the customer journey needs no definition: that the reader will understand exactly what the term means. “The customer journey is defined by moments, and brands are often defined by how they handle them,” is its opening sentence.
In a bid to answer the question What Exactly Is The Customer Engagement Journey, Call Center IQ undertook an online poll among its readers, and published the results in its 2016 Executive Report on Next-Generation Customer Engagement.
As soon as you start to read the report of that survey you realise a problem: there are two fundamentally different ways of defining a customer journey: the journey of an individual interaction and the lifetime journey.
The Journey of an individual interaction might see a customer start by going to a company website and end by calling the contact centre.The lifetime journey begins when a customer first seeks a product or service, traverses the customer’s purchase of the product or service and ends with the cancellation of a service. In the case of a product purchase that end can be rather indeterminate.
At least half of the respondents to Call Center IQ’s survey listed the following as part of the customer journey:prepurchase research/shopping; inbound questions/information (prepurchase); outbound marketing (ad campaigns, social, etc); transaction/purchase; customer support; technical/product support customer retention interactions; (win back calls, complaint reversal, etc); loyalty/rewards programs; proactive offers/sales/upgrades; proactive customer support; customer feedback (comments on; social media, etc); customer feedback (surveys/active; request); cancellation.
Call Center IQ justifies considering all these different interactions to be part of a journey as follows. “The customer experience is not defined by singular engagements. Each instead represents a moment on the customer’s persistent, potentially endless journey with the business. Businesses, accordingly, cannot engage customers devoid of context. Who is this customer? How has he previously interacted with the business? What is his current intent? Where should he go next? The journey-oriented approach to the customer experience dictates that businesses always know the answers to these questions.”
Answering those questions over the lifetime of a customer might be particularly challenging. Analysing individual customer interaction journeys might provide better returns, identifying problems with websites, IVR systems, call centre operators’ response etc; all of which can create roadblocks, dead ends and deviations on the customer journey.
ClickFox, a provider of tools for analysing this kind of customer journey puts it rather eloquently.
“The customer is always in motion and the moment they set out on a journey - wherever and however it begins and ends, the single smartest thing we can do is to learn everything about their journey in an effort to help them get there, and make our brand journey their best journey.
“If customer experience is the currency on which we now compete in converging, parity markets, journey science is fast becoming the weapon of differentiation, and the foundational fact base to run the most efficient, profitable businesses centred around the customer.”
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