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  • Charles Sutton

Create a Journey Map for Better Customer Data Collection

Spending time on a customer journey map will result in a better customer analytics strategy. You need to prioritize the time to get one created if you don’t have one already. This article will cover what the customer journey map is, how it leads to a customer metric map, and how that metric map will be used to select the right customer data collection platforms. Having a customer data strategy aligned with the actions your prospective customers take will lead to better results with your data analytics program. The metrics you define and collect early in the collection phase can offer early insights into the effectiveness of your customer touchpoints.

The Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map should become the roadmap for your data collection strategy. A customer journey map is a document that captures all the touchpoints along the customer pathway to purchasing a product (or any other last action at the end of the journey). Let’s use buying a car for example. A typical car buying customer will realize they need a new car. They search the internet for the type of car they are looking for. They visit sites to view and compare cars. They can take several actions after online research. They could have someone contact them through internet inquiry, they could call, or they could visit the lot. When they do visit a lot, they can test drive and buy or decide to buy at a later date. Follow up communications from the dealership keeps the potential buyer engaged. Dealerships send reminders through text, phone, and email. While the potential customer is thinking about purchasing, they are probably researching loans, payment plans, and their own bank accounts. Eventually, the customer picks a car and makes a purchase. After the purchase they will have feelings about the car, their buying experience, and after purchase support that they will share on social media and their personal networks.

At every step of that journey, car dealerships have to be in front of that potential customer during their entire journey. Offering them information, help, and options during their buying journey. Dealerships will want to know how effective their engagement is during each stage of that journey. It is at this point, that a customer data strategy starts getting developed. Dealership management will have questions about how effective was the engagement of prospects and customers during critical stages within their journey. Do they have the data they need to answer that question? When the prospect was searching, did their dealership appear where the prospect was searching online? What are the sites they visit and does the dealership have a presence there? How many site visitors actually request to be contacted? What percentage contacted came in for a test drive? Of the prospects that came in to test drive, did they make a purchase? That is just some of the questions management will want to answer and you can’t do it without any data. Understanding the questions management has about different stages of the customer journey will provide an outline of the data that you need. Consequently, the mapping exercise can lend as a roadmap for the data you need to collect at each stage of the journey.

The Customer Metric Map

The swim lane type output from the customer journey map works great as a guide for a data collection strategy. Each stage of the customer journey is an opportunity to collect data on the transactional behavior of a person. When someone is thinking about the issue and researching solutions, then you should be collecting data about their online search behavior. When they are reviewing options and determining the best product fit, you should understand recommendation and competitor ratings. Market share data is a good example of data you may need to purchase from a third-party vendor. Once a prospect makes a purchase, you’ll want to know how many prospects converted into a sale. You’ll also want to capture product data to understand performance and feedback for improvements to future versions. Finally, once the customer has used the product, they may want support. Too many calls drive increased costs and decreased customer satisfaction. Having the data to measure call volume and speed to resolution are critical for managing customer relationships. Finally, advocacy of your product is essential for growth. You’ll want the capability to manage online reviews and share any social buzz about your product.

If we revisit the car dealership example from earlier, the dealership should start identifying what kind of data do they need to collect during each stage of the journey. In the beginning of the funnel (attract) you would want to know where your prospects are researching brands of cars you own. You can leverage your buyer persona to identify potential third party sites your customers may search. The website and your social media activity should be focused on the types of customers you want to attract. Once your prospective car buyer shows interest (convert) a call-to-action button on your website will allow you to collect personal information for future contacting opportunities. Email campaigns should also be setup to keep contact with the prospect. Once the prospect becomes a customer purchasing a car (fulfill), email will be critical in continuing engagement with product education, special offers, and car maintenance. Maintaining the relationship after purchase is critical to turning your customers into advocates. You’ll want to store and track referral data from your customers. Other departments can also help engage, so making sure your platforms fulfill their needs as well is critical. You can see from the example how understanding your customer’s journey can help you define the metrics you need which will lead to more applicable data analysis. Now that you have a list of metrics that need to be collected, it’s time to select the best platform to collect the data you need for those metrics.

Metric Map Guides the Platform Purchase Strategy

The list of metrics collected, also known as a metric map, make the platform discussions easier because you know up front exactly what data you need to collect. While covering the metrics needed from the customer lifecycle journey, we identified the first phase in the journey was attracting prospective customers. They were going to search the internet and third-party sites. Click attribution, time on page, and bounce rates are metrics you want to measure. You will need a web analytics tool like Google Analytics to capture that information. Next phase was conversion and you’ll want to know website and ad engagement. At this point email and content management system will be required to collect metrics about views, clicks, and goal attainment. Potential customers will reach out to your company through social, website, phone, and in-person. During that cycle, you want to collect data on prospects so you can learn if prospects are being converted to customers. You’ll also want track the touchpoints the customer encountered from consideration to purchase (or not purchase). Once a purchase is completed, you’ll want to keep in touch with the customer to nurture the relationship. For all of these activities a Customer Relationship Platform (CRM) like Salesforce will be required. Post-relationship you’ll want to understand the customer experience. Surveys are usually the best approach to collect sentiment data which means you’ll need survey software like SurveyMonkey.

If we revisit the car dealership example, the leadership team will need a suite of data platforms to collect the critical data to understand the prospect relationship. When prospective customers reach out through social, phone, or in-person then every employee within that lifecycle need to capture customer interaction data. Capture what stage the customer is at and how frequently they have been contacted. Knowing if a prospect is still searching will help your salesforce be more efficient by not contacting disqualified leads. Once a car sale is complete, you’ll continue to engage the customer to ensure they are enjoying their purchase and inform them of other service center options that can help them extend the life of their car. Special offers and promotions can be given through email to keep the customer engaged, extend the relationship, and possibly get referrals.

As you can see, spending time on the customer journey map will lead to better customer data, tools, and analysis in the future. The first step in your customer data collection strategy has to be a customer journey mapping exercise. The customer journey mapping exercise defines the metrics needed for analysis in the form of a metric map. The metric map defines the metrics needed to guide your platform purchase decisions.

It’s so frustrating when you can understand each phase of the customer journey because you don’t have the right data available for analysis. Save yourself the later pain in the data architecture deployment plan by spending some time upfront understanding who your customer is, where they will be, and what data you need to collect about thema. I hope this is enough evidence to convince you to carve out some time with your other executive team members to create the customer journey map that will guide your customer data strategy.

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