I recently blogged about the importance of mapping the journey your customers take. This is an essential process for improving the customer experience; after all if you are not aware of the most common customer journeys then it is difficult to plan how to improve them.

Stage one, as described previously, is simply to understand your present state, to track and analyse who is getting in touch, how, and when so you have a detailed description of your customer contacts. Stage two involves measuring the customer effort by actually looking at their journey and activity in more detail.

Customer journey mapping is a process whereby all contacts made by a customer across all channels, where data is available, (voice, IVR, webchat, website, retail outlets, etc) are linked together to create a set of interconnected interactions.

This connected series of interactions forms a series of distinct customer journeys that, when combined together, form an activity map. By combining customer contact profiling with these maps and a comprehensive view of a customer’s contacts, the relationship between those contacts and the impact of those contacts can be established. These customer journey maps can be used to understand interactions within their context and root causes of contacts and multiple related contacts can be identified.

With this data it will be possible to identify the root causes of customer contact and where these causes cluster around certain events in the customer lifecycle. These are the focus points that need to be investigated.

It is also possible to use activity measured customer effort scoring in order to further refine analysis. Customer effort score (CES) is a metric favoured in intelligent demand optimisation analytics as it has strong predictive capabilities of future spend and loyalty. It also exposes potentially difficult to see issues in product, policy or service design and implementation that both generate volume and impact customer experience and loyalty.

CES is preferred to Net Promoter Score (NPS) for volume related activities as, firstly, NPS does little to explain contact generation reasons and secondly, whilst NPS may be indicative of an issue, it does not identify the root cause of an issue. CES, allied to customer journey mapping, shows you where your problems are.

Activity measured customer effort scoring, simplistically, involves tracking the volume of a customer’s interactions in their attempts to resolve their query, and associating the effort taken to accomplish that aim. Effort is therefore the amount of contacts by time taken to complete the task with a weighting, calculated by a specially designed algorithm, which reflects the level of effort required in each customer query (in other words, factoring a lower amount of effort for a website contact over a voice contact). This generates an effort score, which can be allied to the customer journey, mapping and identifying the key areas of effort generation in a customer lifecycle.

Whilst this powerful data and analysis will be critical to your intelligent demand strategy, I would advise ensuring that a human perspective be added to your analytical mix. Utilise customer statements and refer to customer complaints. Take some time out and listen to and observe a selection of customer journeys. This will help inform and validate your analysis better than relying only on the numbers.

Undertaking this complete process will not only map why and how customers initiate contact, it allows you to determine the customer effort at each stage. This insight is extremely valuable when planning where to focus effort – you can pick out the root causes of most customer contacts and deal with these before anything else.

I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.