Do you know where your customers have been? Do you want to know, or do you even care?

If you want to stay in business, there's only one answer to the question: a resounding yes.

But how do you track your customer's interactions with your brand? Multiple technologies claim to offer these capabilities, but it's only in relatively recent years that organizations have turned to vendors offering analytics applications specific to customer journeys.

Analyzing Customer Journeys

The result, according to new research in the Gartner Market Guide for Customer Journey Analytics (CJA) (paywall), is that the market for these applications is still badly fragmented with dozens of vendors jostling for position.

Speaking to CMSWire, report co-author Jason Daigler said that because of the relative infancy of the market, many vendors are offering different parts of customer journey analytics, but rarely the entire range of technologies needed to provide a full picture.

“It's early days for this market and as a result the vendors are tackling it in a number of different ways,” he told CMSWire.

“Some vendors are starting at the contact center and then branching out from there. Other vendors are mega-vendors like IBM or Salesforce that have loads of different pieces in the organizations and they are hoping to stitch all those together. The there are other, smaller niche vendors that are for smaller companies that don’t have their own CRM system or contacts system and are a bit more agnostic in terms of which systems they work with.”

The resulting report cites 20 different vendors. There are many more vendors out there, and Daigler warns that organizations searching for a customer journey analytics application should consider all vendors.

“I do think it’s still early days, so the vendors in the guide do not necessarily compare apples to apples,” Daigler added.

Customer Journey Analytics

The market report defines customer journey analytics (CJA) as the process of tracking and analyzing the way customers use combinations of channels to interact with an organization and covers all channels present and future which interface directly with customers. Among the channels Daigler cited are:

  • Human interaction channels, like call centers
  • Fully automated channels, like websites or mobile device
  • Live customer assistance, like live chat or co-browsing
  • Channels operated by third parties, like independent retail stores
  • Channels with limited two-way interaction display advertising

The research included the following 20 vendors, listed in alphabetical order (there is no scoring in this research):

The increasing number and variety of channels that customers use to interact with organizations requires a deeper level of insight to understand their activities in all of the different channels.

The concept of understanding customer journeys is not new, though, even if the applications and the way those applications are used is still only emerging:

“The notion of understanding the customer journey has been around for a while within specific channels. Web analytics has been around for a long time to understand what the customer is doing on the website. But its only in the last five or six years that customers have started bouncing around from channel to channel as they are now,” Daigler said.

“I think more than ever there is a need greater than ever to understand a customer that is using one device in work, another device at home, going into a store at the weekend and engaging on social. As customers bounce around more there is greater need for customer analytics.”

Phases Of Customer Journeys

The report identified four different phases of customer interactions that a CJA application should provide. They include:

Gathering

This is the process of gathering data from each of the channels for analysis, which is increasingly difficult as single sign-on becomes more popular and customers don’t have to sign into every channel they use.

Connecting

In order to overcome that, CJA applications need to identify all the possible channels used by individual customers and the common elements used across those channels. The matching process itself is very often supported by either the client or by both the client and the vendor.

Visualizations

This offers a visualization of what channels are used by the customers and how they are using them throughout their entire lifecycle. This will require an investment in analytics applications specially designed for purpose.

Acting

After acting, gathering and visualizing data, the information needs to be put into action to achieve real business results. Some CJA applications support outputs such as recommendations, cause analysis and trend charts.

How does an enterprise develop a CJA portfolio that fits their needs?

“We advise companies to start small. There are maybe dozens or even hundreds of different channels were customers engage with companies but at the outset it is just about impossible to throw them all into the mix at once,” Daigler said.

“So we advise people to start with maybe two channels, the channels that are most important for them — maybe something to understand how the websites is being used, or the mobile app, or the contact center and the mobile, or the mobile and social. As they get a handle on this they can start getting bigger.”

Like all other enterprise technologies, they also need to have a very clear idea of what problems they want to solve before involving technology.

Beginning of the Journey

It's early days for CJA and it will take some time and effort before the solutions can be considered complete. The current solutions also need to be future-proofed by opening them to all current and future channels, whatever may emerge.

“One of the things about a good customer journey analytics is that it is open to being fed with new data streams, or channels," Daigler said.

“Even the big players like IBM or Salesforce can’t manage all channels so they have to provide an open repository where users  can dump data from all kinds of sources like video, or weather data so that will be a big part of it. You need to be agnostic about where the data is coming from for real customer analytics to work.”

It is unclear when we will see consolidation in this field, but Daigler pointed out the potential implications such consolidation would bring: organizations are using these applications in many different ways, consolidation could negatively impact that. 

"I haven’t seen a lot of acquisitions in the market yet, probably because it's new, but it’s definitely possible down the road," he added.

The ultimate goal here is to provide better customer experience. The more you understand how customers are operating in any given channel, the better the experience you can provide. With customer experience a key differentiator in business today, expect to see more of CJA in the months ahead.