4 solutions for overcoming problems in customer journey mapping

September 21, 2016

It’s easy to see how mapping the customer journey could benefit a business. However, envisaging what it would actually take to build a framework that maps out the stages of your customer’s lifestyle is a good deal trickier.

Great customer journey maps require marketers to utilise data-driven research in order to connect the online and offline customer journey, with the aim of improving the customer experience.

That’s something only 5% of marketers say they have achieved, according to recent research from Econsultancy.

The majority of the 350 marketing, digital and ecommerce professionals surveyed – all based in Australia and New Zealand, by the way – admitted that they are ‘missing important pieces of the jigsaw’ (45%) or ‘there are a lot of missing parts’ (44%), as far as their understanding of the customer journey is concerned.

The remaining 6% said they had no insights into the customer journey, presumably put off by the prospect of trying to acquire and align data in a way that would allow them to draw conclusions on how customers are moving from discovery to purchase.

Is mapping the customer journey as difficult as some brands make it look?

After releasing its ‘Customer Experience Maturity in Australia and New Zealand’ report, Econsultancy got dozens of marketers together to discuss the issues they face when working out the customer journey.

All the problems marketers are faced with in mapping the customer journey revolve around data, it appears. More precisely, capturing all the available offline and online data and bringing it all together so that it is actionable.

Multiple legacy technologies are partly to blame, along with trouble in getting customer data in the first place, and data silos making some customer data impossible to access and join with information from elsewhere in the business.

The marketers then offered up four solutions for overcoming these issues:

1. Introduce ‘risk management’ for data

For companies who adhere to ‘ownership’ of data by department, customer journey mapping is almost impossible. To truly gauge how your customers go from discovery to purchase, the marketing team needs access to every shred of customer data.

There’s an argument, then, for introducing ‘risk management’ for data, i.e. establishing an interdepartmental data safety protocol to assure data stewards that their data will be managed properly.  

This might prove to be the key to making a cultural change and lowering objections for sharing data widely within the organisation.

2. Review your IT solutions

You wouldn’t use MS Paint to professionally edit pictures, so why would you use outdated systems to collect and access data? Up-to-date solutions – especially those which have been tailored to your specific business – can make accessing and using data, for the purpose of gaining a better understanding of the customer journey, relatively easy.

So, review your IT solutions to see if they are up to the task of collecting and presenting data in an actionable way.

3. Build up your company’s analytics

To give yourself the best chance of accurately mapping the customer journey, you need to ensure the basics of an analytics programme are in place.

That means agreeing the key performance indicators (KPIs) and ensuring marketers’ conclusions are based on cold, hard data – although some ‘benefit of doubt’ is afforded to those with the right instincts and experience, of course. However, not all data should be taken at face value – insights drawn from social media or ad buying platforms, for example, can prove to be inaccurate.

This has led to marketers producing their own first-party customer data, with many using Net Promoter Score to gauge the loyalty of their customer relationships.

4. Prove the value of mapping the customer journey

New technology, bringing about a cultural change and producing first-party customer data will require a serious investment.

In order to convince those with the keys to the company safe to hand over enough funds to put the foundations in place to build a customer journey map, you’re going to have to prove that it will provide a return on investment.

Limited funds lead to inadequate systems that don’t allow you to fill the gaps in the customer journey, so it’s crucial to show how gathering data from customer journey touchpoints and can profit the business, as well as make the lives of the marketing department easier…

We shouldn’t underestimate the size of the problems that make mapping the customer journey so difficult – but nor should we underestimate the strength of today’s technology, which can join the dots for you.

The right CRM and marketing automation tool for your business will be able to combine all communication channels which, in turn, enables you to build a consolidated view of you customers and deliver consistent experience across all channels.

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director