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Customer Journey and Experience Software 2020: Complete Guide

What is Customer Journey and Experience?

Customer Journey and Customer Experience (CX), a decade ago, may have been abstract marketing concepts, but not any longer. A 2018 Gartner survey found that over 60% of organizations carried out business model changes to try and improve CX, including customer journey planning.

The new marketing practices that stem from an aware approach to CX help brands develop and maintain relationships with customers by shifting focus from single-touchpoint personalization to a multiple-touchpoint and omnichannel journey.

Customer journey and customer experience are intricately related. A curated CX can only take place when companies have clarity about the journey that someone will take or has taken in order to become a customer. So, to understand the relation between the two, let's explain each of these concepts.

Customer Journey is a set of actions and routes that a customer undergoes to buy a product or service. If the customer is purchasing insurance, the customer journey is all the action she takes, from the moment of searching on the web to going to the website to choose the right policy, to receiving the policy in their email inbox and/or mailbox. The customer journey can be broken down into different stages. Depending on businesses’ needs or consumer profiles, the number of stages or sub-stages can differ. But overall, the broad-level stages with major touchpoints during a customer’s journey are Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention, and Advocacy.

Customer Experience (CX) is how a customer feels while going through the entire process. It relates to the experience and interactions of the person. The information exchange, reactions, feelings that an existing customer or potential customer experiences during every touchpoint of purchasing, and then, using the product or service - all of these are what constitute CX. Every company has happy and not-so-happy customers and every person has a good or not-so-good opinion of a product based on their experience. CX feeds directly into the customer’s perception of the brand.

Customer Experience can be parsed for just one touchpoint, or with the entire product cycle interaction. Customer Journey is an account of all the possible touchpoints where a customer engages with a brand.

Customer Journey and Customer Experience Software

Customer Journey Mapping is a visual interpretation of individuals’ relationship with a company, service, product, or brand over time and across channels. It facilitates the studying of customer experience by visualizing customers' thoughts and feelings through the touchpoints, which are the points of interaction. These visualization design tools allow companies to do a deep-dive into each defined touchpoint and the experience associated with it. This enables companies to figure out nuances and feelings attached to each touchpoint and the journey’s progress from thereon.

The software guides marketers to focus on the major stages of the journey and the touchpoints associated with each stage, which then feeds into their attempt to develop processes for the best possible customer experience. Some of the common touchpoints are listed below for each stage of the customer journey.

Customer Journey and Customer Experience Software
Awareness touchpoints
  • Web search
  • Social media presence
  • Public relations
  • Online and traditional advertising
  • Top-of-the-funnel content
  • Peer referral
Consideration touchpoints
  • Product catalogs
  • Peer referral
  • Social media presence

Knowledgebase content

  • Webinars
  • Free trials
  • Product/service demos
  • Testimonials
  • Discounts
  • Q&A sessions
Purchase touchpoints
  • Product catalogs
  • Product reviews
  • Checkout page and process
  • Account creation process
  • Company representative interaction
  • Point-of-sale and physical store interactions
Retention touchpoints
  • Thank you mails
  • Customer support
  • FAQs
  • Knowledgebase
  • Cross-selling and upselling communication
  • Social media interaction
Advocacy touchpoints
  • Online and offline feedback forms
  • Social media presence
  • Testimonial requests

The software solution enables the company to define the customer journey properly and makes it easier to set up processes and actions for focused customer experience. The experience is key to the satisfaction or its lack of it that facilitates the customer to complete their journey or abandon it midway.

A Customer Experience Map is a much deeper evaluation than just a journey map. It not only takes into account the given journey map but may also include experiences outside of the defined journey. The software collects data about every touchpoint interaction the company has with current and potential customers, which the company can measure and analyze, and evaluate each customer’s lifecycle value. Insights from this can be used to improve the overall experience that customers have with the company.

Benefits of using Customer Journey and Customer Experience Software

Today, there are so many channels and modes for engaging a customer that visualizing the typical customer relationship is no easy task. Most customer relationships are quite complex, considering their expectations, stage of the relationship, and the potential touchpoints. It is very important to understand the route that potential leads and customers take from their very first moment with a brand until conversion and beyond.

As a company, we tend to talk in terms of multiple touchpoints and omnichannel, but to a customer, all of it is just one brand. The customer wants their experience to be seamless across all channels, without the need to repeat or explain their requirements. A map helps uncover the gaps and complications that arise with siloes in a business. Some of the benefits of a customer journey map would be:

  • Help the marketer see where and how customers interact with the business, thus revealing even the not-so-obvious but important touchpoints
  • Allows real-time discussions with customers to share information and get immediate feedback
  • Focus on different stages in the buying funnel for any particular customer need
  • Set the customer journey in a logical order
  • Identify the communication or service gaps
  • Provide a customer’s view on the sales process
  • Highlight gaps between the desired and the actual customer experience and try to improve them
  • Concentrate efforts and expenditure on the prioritized areas to increase efficiency
  • Create statistical reports to assess customer satisfaction and improve internal processes to attract and retain customers

The ripple effect of a happy customer pays off well for companies. Drawing multiple paths and maintaining accurate records for all customer interactions can be a drain on time, effort, and is very difficult to manage. The major benefit of Customer Journey and Experience software is to consolidate numerous processes into one system and ease the course of building reasonable business solutions. This helps maintain healthy engagement with customers, boosts sales, and maximizes profits.

Industries that use Customer Journey and Experience Software

Any industry that uses multiple channels to reach out and engage with customers would do well to adopt this software. Some of the top industries would be:

  • Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance:
  • Hospitality and Travel
  • Telecom
  • Retail
  • Automotive
  • Healthcare
  • Education

According to Gartner, Inc., more than half of all organizations will redirect their investments towards customer experience innovations in the times to come.

Users of Customer Journey and Experience Software

Earlier in the article, we mentioned that for a customer’s point of view, it is one brand or product or service or business, irrespective of how they interact with it. The customer wants a seamless experience irrespective of the stages of the journey or any touchpoints inside or outside the journey. That is why it is essential to bridge the gap between sales, marketing, and operations teams. With Customer Journey and Experience software, marketing, sales, and even customer service and operations collaborate to ensure that the customer journey is not fragmented and consistent experience is provided.

Almost every department uses it and no department can strictly work on siloes. They collaborate to bring together a cohesive customer experience.

In a recent Econsultancy report on digital marketing trends, 20% of marketers surveyed said that customer experience (CX) is the single most exciting opportunity for their organization in the upcoming year.

Business Problems Solved by CJ-CX Software

Today’s customer is very demanding. With access to considerable information, they expect on-time and stress-free personalized interactions. A small glitch may result in alienating not just the customer but also others in their network, thanks to the current socially connected world. Companies are able to address this problem with technology.

Some of the major business problems that the CJ and CX maps help companies address:

Better Understanding of Customer Pain Points

While roleplaying as a customer for the analysis of the journey map, you’ll be able to identify the communication or service gaps in your map while moving from one touchpoint to another.

Increased Customer Engagement

The roleplaying part while defining the CJ, reveals the possible situations customers will interact with the brand. This will help you design and implement solid and consistent processes to engage the customer.

Increase in Sales

A consistent CX directly influences the positive word of mouth review and a reduction in customer churn, thus reducing the cost of acquiring new customers. This also results in increased sales. Upselling and cross-selling efforts show more results.

Loyal customers and better employee satisfaction

When the expectations of a customer are met, their satisfaction and loyalty also increase. The customer journey map gives a high-level view of the entire customer experience. While drawing it up, the employees get a better perspective of who the customer is. It helps employees to improve the process and to collaborate across teams to create a stronger, better, and consistent customer experience. Companies with a clear customer journey map also have a better hold over cross-team collaboration. Higher effectiveness at work results in higher employee satisfaction.

Future Proof

Consumers are rapidly shifting from offline to online, with a variety of digital devices assisting their purchasing decisions. Even the offline interactions, like location-based services, are taking on a digital component. More digital devices or platforms may keep coming up and customers may adopt them much faster than before to evaluate a possible purchase. It is best to understand quickly how the interactions work, and be prepared to take advantage of that timely understanding.

The ultimate function of customer feedback is to identify areas to improve and increase customer loyalty and satisfaction. Smart use of CJ-CX software enhances the utility of customer feedback multifold.

Key Features of Customer Journey and Experience Software

A well-designed customer journey map helps chart out improvements in the customer experience. Customer journey mapping tools assist in identifying touchpoints and the associated experiences at various stages of the customer journey. This may sound rather simple, but it really is not. Customer Journey is not the same linear path for all customers, and even for the same customer at different times. Because of this, choosing the right tool with the right features can be a challenge. It is important to know the business; purpose exactly, and based on that, look for the key features in the available solutions.

There are two types of tools available:

Journey Mapping and Visualisation Tools

For businesses and marketers who wish to only visualize the customer journey, Mapping & Visualisation tools might be the best option. Some of the key features to look out for would be: create persona, flow charts, data diagrams, wireframes, built-in shape/objects, templates, collaboration capability with multiple users.

Customer Experience Software

Here, the main focus is on bringing customer feedback into the organization at every possible touchpoint during the customer journey. The main highlight of such tools is to bring in both quantitative and qualitative data from various channels and touchpoints, which can be used to improve internal processes. Some of the key features in such tools would be: multi-channel data collection, project & task management for cross-team collaboration, data diagnostics, access to real-time customer feedback, ticket management, performance gap triggers, dashboard views, reports and analysis.

It is very important to recognize the approach one wants to take to map the customer journey. No matter what the reason and approach is, in today’s world it is critical to get started now if businesses desire to keep their customers happy.

AI in Customer Journey and Experience Software

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the hottest buzzwords right now. Given the many possibilities that AI promises, the potential to improve CX is immense. Sure enough, AI has been promptly incorporated into solutions to provide intelligent, convenient, and informed CX at any point during the customer journey.

Gartner has predicted that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human this year (2020).

The power to analyze and manage enormous data from varied sources is what makes the AI help create better and meaningful customer experiences. It can capture and analyze data related to human behaviors and emotions as well.

The ways AI can be used to improve CX could be:

  • Automated Customer Service using chatbots and virtual assistants. It can also enable customers to self-service their simple problems. It guides them step-wise to troubleshoot and fix issues, thus saving a lot of time and human resource costs.
  • Predictive trends and personalization, which is basically an ability to expect the actions of customers, based on their earlier behaviors.
  • Targeted marketing, as AI can help formulate the right personalized message and recommendations by building on its analysis of the customer’s past behavior.
  • With the power to handle a vast scale of information efficiently, AI enables businesses to make faster and informed decisions. AI-enabled customer analytics software can go through much larger and complex data to bring up many more viable business opportunities.

Automation of routine processes can increase operational efficiency and increase productivity. By applying cognitive computing, companies can create sophisticated customer journey analytics by simplifying customer interactions, and deliver meaningful messages to enhance customer engagement.

Artificial Intelligence has tremendous possibilities in the area of understanding and satisfying customers. It is no secret that AI-driven customer journey analytics will soon be the very basic requirement for most businesses to deliver high-impact customer experience quickly and efficiently.

Buyers Guide - Guide to Choose Customer Journey and Experience Software

The ultimate objective of this software is to build customer loyalty and reduce customer churn. The complexity of deciding the perfect solution for a company or team stems from the fact that it depends on many factors. It could range from being a very basic tool to communicate with customers to being a robust platform with all-inclusive features, which integrates with existing business applications.

Understanding, evaluating and then prioritizing the needs is very important while selecting the right customer journey and CX software. There are many software tools and solutions to pick from. Investing time in thorough research to shortlist the software most appropriate to meet business requirements is essential. One must bring in considerations such as integration of communication from all platforms/devices, using existing customer databases and other customer-related applications, and the size and scaling potential of the company. Also take into account the available budget to buy, implement, and maintain the software solution.

Once you have shortlisted the product and vendor based on business needs and product features, it is a good practice to verify the vendor’s track record in your industry, and, if possible, to obtain references from a few existing clients for. Many vendors offer free demos. It is best to utilize free demos with use cases relevant to your business.

Challenges in adopting Customer Journey and Experience Software

Customer journeys are complex — spread across months, multiple touchpoints, and many channels. The precise approach to adoption varies depending on industry and target segments, and must tackle pain points if any, and foresee future needs. Getting this right is crucial for positive customer experience and can be a key differentiator for many companies.

However, even with the fast-changing technology capabilities and high potential of today’s data-driven age, companies are struggling to deliver optimal customer experience. Many marketers continue to struggle when it comes to creating and delivering effective digital customer experience.

Every company is different and may face unique challenges in adopting and benefitting from the available software solutions. In a November 2019 survey, it was found that 22% of companies cited legacy systems as the biggest challenge to adopt CX platforms efficiently into their system.

While legacy systems may seem the biggest reason, the other most common ones are lack of appropriate planning and clear strategy, making an investment in technology ineffective. Many feel that budgets were assigned but not strategically utilized. Differences between environments can introduce errors and lead to much frustration. Precious time gets wasted at times in fixing problems due to incompatible codes introduced during the software lifecycle.

This is a key challenge. For a transformation initiative to succeed, it needs an empowered executive champion to drive cultural change and strategic investments. CX spans multiple departments: operations, delivery teams, marketing, sales, and service, to name some. Each team must have objectives that align with the overall business objectives of customer satisfaction.

ROI of Customer Journey and Experience Software

According to IBM’s 2017 CX Index, omnichannel shopper spend is between 50% and 300% more than single-channel shoppers. “By providing a consistent experience across channels, brands can increase ROI, reduce churn, and increase lifetime value in the long-term.” This has only intensified in the three years since this report.

The new technology-driven marketing practices empower brands to build and maintain relationships with customers on a cross-channel, omnichannel, multipoint journey. And, it’s working — there is more investment in CX because of its impressive ROI potential.

Measuring the ROI of customer experience software is not easy. While one knows the exact amount spent on improving customer experience, measuring the benefits from that investment can be difficult. While linking customer experience and business metrics, one must account for quantitative and qualitative factors as well. And those are certainly not easy to chart.

2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting the costs by 10%

E C M A M

Emmett C Murphy Mark A Murphy

Authors, Leading on the Edge of Chaos

ROI may mean different things to different industries. A value-for-money deal may be a wonderful customer experience for the travel industry, but it may not have much impact in medical care. In some industries, returns may start showing in a few days or weeks, and in others it might take a year or more for any results to show. Also, niche companies with specific target audiences may have better customer ratings than larger companies who serve a diverse group of customers, as large companies deal with more people, diluting the overall experience. It is best to define your own parameters to calculate your ROI based on the size of your company and the industry it belongs to.

Some parameters that may be used to understand the ROI of the implemented solution:

  • Revenue growth
  • Customer Retention
  • Cross-sell/Upsell – Satisfied customers may purchase additional products and services from the same brand.
  • Customer Servicing Cost – Streamlined processes can improve customer experience and increase efficiency. For example, introducing an FAQ for common issues can resolve the problem, reducing the load on support staff.
  • Cost Control – Satisfied customers have fewer issues and need less support. It also encourages customer referrals and customer advocacy, thus helping the business grow with less advertising

Quality customer experience is certainly an area that merits investment, even though it may not be easy to conceptualize and calculate returns. Begin with small steps that can show positive effects. Then scale it further with short-term and long-term goals in mind.

62 Customer Journey and Experience Software

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