The Most Essential Thing to Know About the Customer Experience Journey

When you monitor feedback from customers who have experienced what NICE Systems calls the "customer service runaround," you see a wide variation in the amount of detail that people use to describe their customer service experience. One customer may simply say that his experience was "ridiculous" while another will provide an intricate account of each person, each contact, and exactly what was said.

While the first description gives little insight into potential issues, the other tells a story of all of the people, emotions, facts, and products that failed to meet expectations. Could this be why Apple's rating method is a simple five-star feedback system? Or why Siskel and Ebert used a simple "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to rate a movie? We can find great detail deeper in the Apple app store or in a well-written movie review, but aren't we just looking for simple guidance?

The customer service industry has always collected hordes of data points, details, and insights about consumers, living by the motto of "the more data the better." Customer service departments do not live in fear of data, and that is exactly why big data doesn't seem so new to the reporting analysts covering your call centers! But the big challenge is creating clarity from that massive amount of information.

Until recently, this information was heavily siloed within an organization. Even though we've had lots of green lights and red lights to warn us of danger or signal compliance to a metric, it was hard to imagine the customer's experience throughout the entire journey when each channel appears to be performing its job. If it appears that all systems are "go" throughout the organization in each channel—the Web site has a green light, the call center says a-okay, the mobile app is gaining momentum—why do customers still face the runaround? The reason is because it is hard to visualize anything outside of the silo that has created the information.

Today, organizations are investing in technology to visualize the entire journey—each stop, reason, and sentiment—and then uncover the patterns in the path. The customer runaround is rarely a single incident, but often a string of issues that becomes laced with emotion. Understanding the magnitude of the problem helps remove the emotion from a single incident and shows the organization the necessary steps to resolve the root cause. Additionally, the visualization of the customer journey is a predictor of things to come. It can determine when the customer will need an upgrade, when the customer will be the most likely to buy, and what product or service will complement and maximize the wallet share of this customer.

However, a visual map of the customer's journey is not enough. Your front line also needs solid guidance that provides in-the-moment, on-screen, in-context direction. It's time to learn more from the customer journey by mapping the journey, identifying customer runaround, and equipping your customer-facing employees to eliminate it. Are we good? Thumbs up!