Essentially, the customer journey is a long trail of different customer experiences.
And just like life is a journey full of many experiences, you want your customers to have long relationships with your organization, filled with many positive experiences.
According to McKinsey, 56 percent of all customer interactions happen during a multi-channel, multi-event journey. And 38 percent of all customer journeys involve more than one channel of interaction. A deeper understanding of the customer path can lead to insights that are 30 to 40 percent more predictive of customer satisfaction and churn.
It’s clear that understanding and optimizing the entire journey — not simply individual experiences — can create huge value.
So what can you do about this?
Previously, companies would report what was happening. However, with big data analytics you can go beyond individual experiences and delve into why and how certain behavior occurred. In this way, you can define actions that encourage success and eliminate failure.
Here are five ways big data can boost your company’s understanding of customers and their journeys.
1. Tie Together Multiple Experiences into a Journey
The true customer journey is the sum of different customer experiences over different channels and touchpoints. Each experience can cause behavior changes that alter the journey in a positive or negative way.
Big data allows you to bring together the entire journey (sometimes over many years and transactions) and dig deep into the data to see what the experience was and its impact. It’s important to see all three of these items — journey points, experience and impact — to understand which actions create a fantastic journey.
2. Find Hidden Correlations
With all this data, insights might be well hidden. Despite this, it is important to find the unique correlations that create the big picture. This may lead to correlations and conclusions you never before considered, such as:
- Unknown paths customers are taking
- Different time sequences in taking actions
- Sentiments that customers express along their journey
- The behavioral reactions taken based on certain experiences
3. Delve Into the Minds of Customers
Customer behavior plays a major factor in determining outcomes, and it is an essential component of your customer analytics. Behavior analytics shows you the mindset of the customers at each step of the way and, more importantly, what led them to take their next actions.
The digital age has given us tremendous amounts of data to help us understand customer behavior. From this data, a company can optimize and personalize the experiences to impact behavior and guide the customer to the right outcomes.
4. Increase the Lifetime Value of Your Customers
A customer’s journey doesn’t end with one purchase. Your goal is to create a long, profitable lifetime relationship with the customer. After all, it is called "customer relationship management."
You can devise advanced strategies to retain customers and sell add-on or complimentary products. Advanced customer journey mapping means you’ll be able to gain more value from each customer.
5. Increase Your Ability to Experiment
Big data analytics has the potential to increase the speed at which companies do business, adapt to change and find what works and what doesn’t. Some people call this “agile.” Others call it “learning to fail fast.”
Experimenting with a big picture view does not give you the granularity or ability to apply actions to your experiments. However, with data-driven customer journey mapping, your experiments and testing will produce more insights, be directly applicable to relevant actions and allow you to see the full impact of your efforts.
Big Data is a Competitive Must
By using big data to understand customers and their journeys, companies can gain deeper insight into customer psychology. They can also uncover hidden correlations that reveal behavior patterns and the actions they can take to impact the behavior to produce positive outcomes. This leads to a longer relationship, a higher customer lifetime value and increased customer retention.
Organizations that use big data to optimize the customer journey not only create more profitable customer relationships, but also create a competitive advantage in highly competitive consumer markets. Just think about how often you purchase from the companies with the most streamlined customer journey and imagine what that could mean for your company.
By John Morrell, senior director of product marketing, Datameer
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.