In today’s Age of the Customer, data and analytics have become table stakes in the ongoing effort to differentiate your service levels from those of your competitors. But data can still be a game changer if your organization fully understands where to collect it — and how to put it to work.

The key is to ensure that your organization’s data collection programs feed directly into improving your organization’s customer journey mapping efforts. You begin to do that by capturing your customers’ experiences across all channels, applications, processes and departments.

Actionable Insights from In-House Data

That lays the groundwork for a process of revealing actionable intelligence from in-house data that can help your organization achieve measurable improvements to customer service simply by utilizing the data that already resides within your organization.

That may sound daunting because it can be difficult to know where to look for the hidden gems that will let your organization shine in optimizing customer engagement — and what to do when you find them.

3 Ways to Collect Customer Journey Data

Here are three ways your organization can begin to collect the customer journey mapping data it will need:

1. Install multiple listening posts

Gather structured and unstructured feedback from multiple channels. In addition to web and mobile app data, these could include recorded voice interactions, chat, email, social and survey feedback. Each serves a purpose beyond a primary communication channel and — with analytics applied — can surface the kinds of trends and action items that drive systematic improvements.

2. Listen to employees

With assisted service, there are always two sides to a conversation and one side usually provides the critical context. That’s why it’s vital to broaden your definition of voice to encompass employee feedback data. Listening to both sides of a text or voice conversation will yield valuable employee communication and feedback that will enhance your analytics and provide a more nuanced view of customer engagement.

3. Evaluate your toolbox

Stop the manual lifting: To capture voice data, look at speech analytics. To capture text, use text analytics. For web and mobile, journey analytics can provide the missing link. Investing in and maximizing these tools will help your organization uncover and correlate the trends that will result in the actionable intelligence needed to take impactful next steps.

Defining Customer Journey Maps

With your data collection efforts geared up to yield maximum insights, your next step will be using your data to create customer journey maps.

Think of customer journey maps as the collaborative creation of diagrams that depict your customers’ purchase journeys by capturing and representing the different touch points, actions and outcomes they encounter.

Look for the 'Moments of Truth'

They will help move your organization beyond mere speculation about what is happening to its customers based on last interactions or hearsay. They will allow you to analyze the customer experience at each stage of the interaction across multiple channels from the customer view.

Above all, customer journey mapping helps CX designers pinpoint how best to engage with customers at various stages along the way to better meet their needs. For example, a map that illustrates employees’ specific “moments of truth” with customers can help to create or improve focus on a particular action at a key point in the journey.

Identify the Pinpoints Gone Wrong

To drive optimal business processes and nurture a culture of change that impresses customers and drives success, consider these three steps for mapping, understanding, and improving customer journeys:

1. Walk in your customers’ shoes

Every journey mapping project begins by following your customers’ footsteps and observing how your organization responds. Examples include visiting a website or physical location, evaluating purchases, shipments, billing inquiries, support calls, complaints or common events.

Any journey worth studying has multiple points of success or delight, as well as failure or disappointment. Based on these observations, draw diagrams of these activities to visualize the experience as your customers are living it.

2. Map, analyze, adjust and repeat

Then determine how many customers followed a particular path, their subjective levels of satisfaction with the journey and the objective outcome. Once quantified, your organization can focus efforts on journey changes that show the most opportunity for improving satisfaction, increasing revenue, and/or lowering cost.

Remember that applications are available that automatically diagram and quantify paths and outcomes on a continuous basis to provide timely insights into the potential impact of possible changes.

3. Pay special attention to “pinpoints”

On a path with multiple entry points, events and outcomes, there are numerous moments where the customer journey can go right — or take a wrong turn. When you follow those wrong turns back to the point where they diverged from the “happy path,” you’ve pinpointed the problem and will know what to fix.

Finding and fixing those issues and developing methods to resolve them will usually be the biggest priority for your customer experience program. Armed with the maps and the quantitative data on their paths and outcomes, your organization can make meaningful, cross-functional changes to propel business success.

Title image by Teymur Gahramanov