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Reality Check: Will Customer Journey Analytics Be the Next CRM?

By Donna Fluss

View this document on the publisher’s website.

When it comes to enterprise servicing strategies, a new contender seems poised to challenge an old but dependable stalwart. The up-and-comer is customer journey analytics, or CJA, and it’s in the ring with the incumbent, CRM. CJA is now catching the market’s attention, but it’s actually been around for a few years.

DMG Consulting defines CJA as both a strategy and an application; it captures, measures, analyzes, and evaluates the quality and outcome of the customer experience throughout all interactions for all customer-facing touch points, channels, and activities. This includes branch/storefront, back office, in-person sales, website, social media, and contact center activities (including interactive voice response, web self-service, live agent, text, and chat).

With its aim of helping organizations view the entire customer experience, CJA is the broadest and most overarching of all enterprise servicing strategies, encompassing all actions and activities from the customer/member/constituent perspective at all touch points in all channels.

CJA’S Role in the Market
CJA is succeeding in driving investments in journey mapping and analytics to help companies understand what their customers and prospects are doing at every touch point. Enterprises are continuing their ongoing quest to gain insights into their customers’ behavior so that they know how to improve the service experience and enhance their bottom line. (And while I don’t mean to sound negative or cynical, organizations would be thrilled to invest in initiatives that enabled them to increase sales and profits even if they didn’t improve the customer experience, if it were possible.)

The challenge is that obtaining a complete view of all customer journeys and activities is much harder than it sounds. DMG estimates that while more than 100 vendors claim to deliver a CJA-related application, no single solution captures, aggregates, normalizes, and analyzes customer activities in all touch points and channels. Therefore, unless an enterprise is willing to purchase and integrate a number of CJA applications and then normalize the definitions and findings between them, there is no way to acquire a complete view of customers or their journey through a company’s service organization. And while a journey mapping exercise performed by a consulting firm can yield interesting insights, it’s a one-time event that is time-consuming and costly. Without an analytics tool to automate the process and provide a continuous stream of customer data, the findings become outdated in a relatively short amount of time.

CJA is Compelling, But Can it Succeed?
Despite all of the issues and challenges with this strategy—and with the solutions that claim to enable it—the CJA concept is highly compelling. Imagine a heat map that visually displays all of the routes customers take through your organization and what they do at each stop (touch point). Imagine having a way to literally see where prospects start and stop their journey; when and how they get converted to customers; what satisfies, disappoints, and thrills them; which campaigns get them to buy; when, why, and how they reach out for help; and what it takes to get them to expand their relationship. This is the kind of knowledge that enterprises have been seeking for generations.

Given the speed of the current generation of servers and the sophistication of Big Data analytics tools, CJA is becoming more of a realistic possibility. It’s going to take a great deal of work and investment to create multi-touch-point, omnichannel CJA solutions that can standardize definitions and provide a normalized view of how customers interact with organizations each step of the way. But this could very well be the easy part. Where CJA gets difficult, if not currently impossible, is on the operational side, where there is no known (or cost-effective) mechanism to track certain types of consumer actions, behaviors, and opinions. But this should not stop organizations from investing in a strategy that can help them acquire useful information about their customers and prospects. CJA might not be ready to replace CRM, but it’s a step in the right direction.