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Businesses today are prioritizing efforts to improve the customer experience through technology initiatives. However, a new study suggests that few fully understand if those efforts are paying off.

Nearly 90 percent of organizations surveyed by Pointillist said customer experience (CX) drives the overall success of the company by improving customer retention and building brand loyalty. However, roughly the same number said they are struggling to measure the impact of their CX initiatives on important business indicators such as revenue, churn and customer lifetime value.

Most have an incomplete view of the customer experience because they aren’t analyzing data from many of their most important customer data sources. While organizations commonly use data from CRM systems, email, voice mail and other customer feedback sources, few leverage the valuable information contained in point-of-sale (POS) systems, website clickstreams, text messages, billing systems, social media channels and mobile applications.

Unlocking the data points within these critical customer touchpoints is essential for creating a complete picture of the so-called “customer journey,” an end-to-end view of customer interactions with your company across multiple communication channels over time. Customer journey analytics and customer journey mapping are two increasingly popular approaches to mining these data sources in order to quantify the impact of CX initiatives.

Extracting Insights

Although journey analytics and journey mapping aren’t the same, they are closely related tools that can help organizations quickly identify potential problem areas and determine where to focus resources to improve processes. Verified Market Research predicts the global customer journey analytics market will grow by 21 percent annually through 2026, when it will reach a total valuation of $25.93 billion. Aragon Research estimates the global market for customer journey mapping tools will reach $5 billion by 2022.

Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual representation of a customer’s buying process. Typically, maps are generated using information gleaned from interviews or observations of a small sample of customers. While maps are valuable as standalone tools, many organizations now use them as a starting point for a more comprehensive journey analytics program.

Customer journey analytics is a more data-driven approach than mapping. Rather than relying entirely upon subjective interpretation of a few customer evaluations, analytics tools gather hard data from perhaps millions of customer interactions across all communication channels and contact points to create a chronological timeline of engagement. When sources of friction are identified, organizations can execute corrective actions to improve the customer experience.

A Clear View

Most important, customer journey analytics gives organizations insight they can use to better forecast and predict customer behavior. For example, organizations can learn about customer demographics, shopping habits, buying preferences, spending limits, churn rates and more. This information can be used to create personalized experiences for customers.

Data-driven analytics can also make marketing efforts more effective by illustrating which campaigns generate meaningful customer engagement and which do not. It can help identify how customers react to sales pitches or offers delivered by email, web links, in-store displays and other touchpoints.

The ability to integrate, collect and analyze data across multiple sources and applications is essential for creating a single, unified view of the customer experience. Some 30 percent of respondents to the Pointillist survey said they are unable to create such a view with their current tools, and they cited this as one of their greatest challenges for effectively measuring CX.

Customers have come to expect a digitally enhanced experience that encompasses multiple communication channels. To meet those expectations, organizations must understand how customers navigate through the process and what factors influence their decisions. A customer journey analytics solution can help deliver such insights.