November 1, 2018

What is Customer Journey Management?

Customer journey management informs the user experience regarding which products, offers, options and next steps to display to any customer at any point in an engagement.

Customer journey management is a BSS capability that focuses on automating the process of putting the right information, offers and solutions in front of the right users at the right time through any channel. It is not always a well-understood discipline because it is multi-disciplinary, it combines ecommerce best practices with a deep knowledge of a service provider’s complex product set and it requires some sophisticated analytical and process automation technology. Customer journey management platforms can enhance support, care and sales processes, both staff-driven and self-service.

Here are several factors that help define customer journey management’s role in ecommerce processes, which differentiates it from other related, customer- and product-facing activities.

User Experience Design vs Customer Journey Management

User experience design and customer journey management are related, but distinct. For example, user experience design can focus on important issues like color; optimal placement of images, buttons, pop-ups and calls-to-action; responsive design factors for different screen sizes; efficient use of screen real estate; and minimizing the information, clicks or taps required to navigate through a given screen. All of this is critical to driving positive ecommerce outcomes. Indeed, there is a substantial science around how to deliver a user experience that will result in the greatest percentage of sales and customer conversions.

Customer journey management, however, steps in where user experience design leaves off. It addresses customer experience and engagement factors that require specific product knowledge and expertise. Customer journey management informs the user experience regarding which products, offers, options and next steps to display to any given customer at any point in the customer engagement process. Decisions that drive automation are based on history, customer profiles and propensities.

Customer journey management determines which new offers are relevant based on factors like spend, lifetime value, eligibility for promotions or upgrades, recent transactions, existing equipment or profile changes the customer might have made during an interaction. For example, if a customer added a new mobile device to her shopping cart on the previous screen, it could trigger a change in relevance and eligibility that will impact which related offers are relevant and should be presented to her during the check-out process.

Why Does Customer Journey Management Require Automation?

Any one example of a dynamic customer journey may not seem overly complex. When dealing with a service provider’s expansive customer base and a broad set of interrelated products, accessories, offers and eligibility factors, however, the number of potential permutations involved in putting the right offer in front the right customer and the right time is massive.

Imagine trying to automate a game of blackjack that uses tens of thousands of cards for hundreds of players. The goal is to ensure that no player will ever lose, regardless of what the dealer draws, and instructing each player whether they should hit or stand, without any certainty that every player will follow instructions. This is not dissimilar to the challenge of automating customer journey management; it is an analytical, rules-driven process. Whether the customer interaction is self-serve oriented—which is inherently automated—or a staff-operated in a contact center, an outbound telesales setting or a retail environment, automation must govern the process in order for it to work efficiently and ensure that the customer always wins.

To design, configure and maintain the automation required to deliver effective and successful customer journeys, it is necessary to complement a purpose-designed solution with proper expertise to map out and define all of the required inputs, options and decision trees. This is important not only in the pre-implementation phase but also on an ongoing basis because these factors change over time; marketing offers and eligibility criteria change alongside products and prices.

The business case for this ongoing effort is self-justifying because, when done correctly, effective customer journey management will improve critical metrics like average sale, revenue per customer, cost per interaction;, offer uptake, customer lifetime value and more—all of which can have positive impacts on both the top and bottom lines for a service provider.

Why is Customer Journey Management a Distinct Component?

It is important to consider customer journey management distinctly because the logic it comprises should persist even if the experiences a service provider presents across its customer-facing channels undergo substantial redesign. A service provider could undertake a complete digital facelift of all of its portals, customer care desktops and retail point of sales systems and continue to leverage strong customer journey management capabilities to optimize each channel and create true omnichannel capabilities, i.e. customer engagements that can traverse and persist across multiple channels.

A customer journey should not be an endless odyssey where the customer wanders confused toward an uncertain fate. Nor should it be a trial of patience in which a customer is met with a series of irrelevant offers and hurdles along the path toward a known goal. Optimizing a customer’s journey so that it results in achieving the customer’s objective, presents offers and options the customer is likely to welcome and, ideally, increases revenue per customer in ways that strengthen relationships—rather than simply exploiting or penalizing customers—requires effective, automated customer journey management.


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