The Customer Journey Matters, Every Step of the Way

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Study after study has shown that customers are dissatisfied with the quality of service they receive from many, if not most, companies. Yet if you ask the same companies about service quality, you'll discover that many—but not all—have quality assurance programs, and the vast majority of their agents are meeting or exceeding their program goals. If you take it to the next level and talk to contact center leaders, most will tell you that they're delivering great customer service. Clearly, something is wrong. The public is generally quite unhappy with the quality of customer service, while companies think they're doing a good job.

There are several explanations for this disconnect in perception:

  • Quality assurance programs measure how well agents adhere to internal policies and procedures, and cannot accurately assess customer satisfaction.
  • Many quality assurance programs are out of date and evaluating the wrong aspects of calls, emails, etc.
  • Most of the measures used to evaluate customer satisfaction (such as Net Promoter Score) are limited and concentrate on a single event or experience instead of the overall customer life cycle.
  • Managers set attainable goals based on beating results from the previous period, rather than meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • Companies are measuring what they have the tools to capture, instead of what is important to their customers.
  • Companies ignore customer needs because they are not willing or able to make the necessary investments; it costs too much to fix the underlying issues.

It's clear from this list that too many organizations have ample reason to know that they are not delivering great service, even if this is not what they are saying to the public. (This is independent of the telecom providers such as Comcast and Time Warner, who are in a class of their own.) In some cases, organizations are unwilling to make the needed investments in their servicing organizations, infrastructure, and people, as they are too focused on short-term results. But this will turn out to be a costly mistake, because it makes it impossible to identify where there are issues throughout the company and what those issues are. This is where customer journey analytics comes in.

Customer Journey Analytics

In the last few years, vendors from a few IT sectors have come to market with solutions to help companies measure the customer experience. These big data applications are capable of analyzing massive amounts of customer interaction information in order to identify customer issues. The challenge with many of these solutions is that they take a limited view of the customer; they concentrate on one or two channels, such as interactive voice response (IVR) and Web sites, as this data is readily available. And while it's useful to analyze self-service interactions, it provides only a limited view of the customer experience.

Organizations that want to understand each customer's unique experience have to track all legs of their journey, which is where customer journey analytics solutions enter the landscape. These emerging solutions address both structured and unstructured components of the customer journey. They capture, analyze, and evaluate all customer actions and everything the enterprise does for customers at any point or channel in the organization.

An important objective of these solutions is to identify the customer's effort. This includes all self-service interactions and activities (Web and IVR analytics), as organizations need to see what does and does not work in their self-service applications. The solutions evaluate how the customer was handled in the back office—if there is a system for capturing and providing this information—as it's essential to see if processes are being performed properly and in a timely manner. (The back 

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Posted February 20, 2015