Omnichannel Journey Design—Is Your Business Ready?

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Embedding analytical models within customer engagement workflows facilitates brand consistency and optimizes personalization through automation. Consider how this might shorten time to value when implementing customer analytics and designing customer journey and customer engagement programs. Consumer-facing businesses should evaluate the relationship-building benefits of these steps:

• using adaptive interaction rules and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize the customer experience according to channel preferences;

• offering predictive or prescriptive next-best action upselling, cross-selling, and trade promotions to high-value customers who are most likely to purchase;

• integrating both data and contextual information prior to analysis in order to enhance customer engagement;

• supporting near-real-time or in-the-moment customer engagement based upon various embedded analytical techniques such as, but not limited to, adaptive interaction, predictive next-best action, contextually aware interaction, automated behavioral targeting, or prescriptive guidance; and

• making use of multiple customer information sources, including mobile, kiosk, point-of-sale (POS), web, CRM, ERP, supply chain, social channel, and third-party data.

Agility and flexibility are apt to be required for consumer-facing businesses to thrive in 2017 and beyond. In the race to deliver customer value, 90-day assessment programs have often given way to an accelerated pace of “fail fast, learn quickly, move forward,” and succeed early by delivering minimum viable products. Established players may be at greater risk of losing market share to emerging disruptors who are held to different standards and are better able to exploit organizational and operational agility. The same could be said about customer journey design processes—“fail fast, learn quickly, move forward” or risk losing customers to more nimble players.


Hundreds of respondents that used customer analytics and journey design solutions and processes reported the highest return on investment—at more than 5 percent of operational budgets—via these performance enhancements: customer service and support enhancements (31.6 percent); top-line revenue increase (30.5 percent); customer retention (30.6 percent); customer acquisitions (29.6 percent); and customer advocacy, loyalty, or satisfaction enhancements (29.9 percent).

These results show there’s a strong business case to be made for such investment. Consider that for telecommunications companies, every 18-month contract for smartphone service averages about $110 per month. In every customer service and support interaction, whether online, phone, or email, there is potential to retain or gain approximately $2,000 annually. As noted above, for a telecommunications company with more than 135 million retail subscribers, seemingly small increases in churn or retention can quickly add up.

In this age of digital engagement, interaction, and commerce, analyses of customers’ interactional and transactional behaviors with the goal of creating actionable business insights are often essential in designing effective omnichannel customer journeys. Business intelligence applications and dashboards may be useful for reporting and providing historical or near-real-time guidance and trends. However, transforming massive amounts of customer information (structured and contextual) into actionable insights is often a significant challenge for organizations of various sizes, across industries and geographies.

Leveraging customer analytics and insights to enrich customer journey design has the potential to optimize omnichannel customer interactions and engagement; enhance employee engagement via “guided intelligence”; improve customers’ purchase experience; segment, profile, predict, and prescribe best practices for optimal types of customer engagement; mitigate identity theft, fraud, and risk; and improve operational business processes through a customer-centric lens.

Now is a great time for organizations that want to enhance their customer-centric interactions and business processes via multiple channels and preferred touch points—performance improvements, cost efficiencies, and cloud delivery mean that enabling software and consulting services are more accessible. Conversely, though, it may be a challenging time to select optimal software-based technologies, services, and solutions.

There are now more than 500 software tools, applications, systems, and consultancies that offer customer analytics and journey design capabilities and services. Each value proposition is a theme or variation on supporting customer experience management or on improving the customer experience. It can be confusing when these options encompass multiple categories—everything from CRM, voice of the customer, digital marketing, business process management, text analytics, and social media intelligence to workforce optimization, scheduling, and contact center solutions.

While some software vendors or providers of consulting services offer solutions that facilitate creation of specific types of algorithmic models, such as customer retention, propensity to purchase, and customer value for retail and telecommunications, businesses should carefully evaluate corporate objectives and goals prior to investing in sophisticated solutions or consulting services.

Leslie Ament is retail, wholesale, and distribution research leader for Deloitte’s Center for Industry Insights (C&IP) and Editorial Board, Journal of Applied Marketing Analytics. Her research encompasses customer intelligence, interaction management, advanced analytics, GRC, social, and text analytics. A CRM practitioner, Ament has driven process requirements and implementation for both on-premises and SaaS CRM systems.

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