When we focus on improving customer engagement and customer experiences, we don’t always have the complete story. Some companies have dozens of channels to manage, including offline, online, and social interactions. Customers hop from one channel to the next, and to understand their complete journey, we need to collect this data and analyze the way they use these channels to interact with organizations—which is ushering in a new set of tools offering customer journey analytics.

To understand this relatively new market, we sat down with Gartner Research Director Jason Daigler to discuss his latest report, “Market Guide for Customer Journey Analytics.” Gartner highlights 20 vendors but notes that this is certainly not a comprehensive list. Customer journey analytics has to serve many different stakeholders in the organization, and this technology market offers a lot of different approaches for enterprise buyers.

For larger companies, like Adobe and IBM, that have a lot of tools you might already be using, Mr. Daigler observes that they will try to link data in each of their individual tools or applications together more seamlessly, something that IBM is already doing. For smaller companies, like Thunderhead or GMC Software, they will be more agnostic in terms of where the data comes from and try to be as open as possible, according to Gartner. In essence, they will try to make funneling data from all points as easy as possible and link it all together for you.

One of the biggest challenges you will face in the customer journey is tracking behavior across all the channels used. Connecting the right channels in the right way will ultimately lead to better customer experiences, but this comprehensive view requires collecting a complex set of data form numerous touchpoints—some of which might not be available, like in offline channels. So, how can you approach customer journey analytics that will be effective?

In our conversation with Gartner, they outlined some best practices for you to consider.

Start with only a few channels.
Mr. Daigler points out that if you approach all the channels at once, the project is destined to fail. He suggests beginning with two, maybe three, where the data is (a) available and (b) meaningful.

Have a holistic view of your vision.
You don’t want to realize later down the road that you’ve connected two channels in the wrong way or in a way that doesn’t fit the overall strategy. Mr. Daigler recommends maintaining a long-term view for all your channels.

Start connecting your customer analytics with feedback surveys.
We’ve talked about the importance of measuring the effectiveness of your communications and customer interactions through an engaged online community of your customers, a place where data is rich and meaningful. This is where a mature voice of the customer program can flourish. Using feedback surveys as the source of customer journey analytics is powerful since customers can be authenticated and these interactions are not anonymous. In fact, Mr. Daigler recommends starting with this channel first, if it’s already in place. Then, connect to as many channels as possible.

Be transparent about data analytics with your customers.
Mr. Daigler points out that you will start to use data in ways you haven’t used it before. You want to be as transparent as possible. Involve your compliance or legal officer early on and as often as possible. This is also a ripe opportunity for customer communications professionals, who have a mature understanding of regulatory and compliance content in communications.

Allison Lloyd serves as the editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media. She delivers thought leadership on strategic and plan-based solutions for managing the entire document, communication and information process. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonYLloyd.
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