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  • December 1, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

5 Hot Customer Service Technologies

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score), map the rest of the customer journey, and engage the Actionable Intelligence tool, which works to interpret customer behavior and predict further actions.

Companies can also segment and target journey maps to zero in on key interactions and better understand why common issues arise.

Real-time and predictive analytics, Fluss adds, are as much a strategy as they are a technology. "For the first time, organizations are able to obtain insight into the full customer journey," she says. "You can put together information about your customer and use it to better help her."

Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping, the process of plotting the complete sum of experiences that customers go through with businesses, is "an emerging category in 2014 that I think will take off in 2015," says Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst at McGee-Smith Analytics.

Forrester earlier this year called customer journey mapping "the cornerstone to operationalizing your organization's [customer experience] strategy."

And Bruce Temkin, managing partner of The Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm, calls customer journey mapping "one of the most effective tools for customer experience professionals."

A customer journey map is a straightforward document that looks at more than just single transactions. It is a timeline that shows the stages customers pass through in all of their interactions with businesses, including product research, ordering, and post-sales support. For each stage, the customer journey map lists the actions taken by the customer. This includes any touch points with the company, such as calling a customer care number or visiting a Web site. Alongside each of these actions, the journey map should show the questions customers have at each stage.

Unfortunately, there is no standard for building a customer journey map. It can follow high-quality design principles or use Post-it notes and smiley faces. It can be a work of art or something that might have been scrawled on a napkin. It should, however, at a minimum, include the following elements, according to most experts:

  • Actions: After you lay out the stages of your customer's journey map, ask yourself what the customer is doing at each one of the stages.
  • Motivations: What will encourage your customers (or discourage them) from moving to the next stage? What kinds of emotions do they feel at each stage?
  • Questions: Where do customers get hung up? Do they have questions and find it difficult to get the answers? Could you proactively address questions or concerns customers might have as they move through stages?
  • Obstacles: What kinds of obstacles do customers confront at each stage? Are there roadblocks that might cause them to give up and not complete a particular stage while moving through the customer journey?

"Customers have long expected companies to have a handle on what other steps have been taken before the call to the agent, but tying together information from multiple sources to make this happen" has been too complex and expensive to execute, McGee-Smith says.

That's one of the reasons that, until now, customer journey maps have been widely underutilized, according to Forrester Research. 

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