Customer Journey Automation

Customer journey automation
written by

Craig T. Watkins

Ecrion Chief Revenue Officer

I recently wrote about Customer Experience Automation (CXA), and how Ecrion defines the term. One of the primary points in that post was that Ecrion specifically focuses on automating the Customer Experience—whenever possible. Automation is, in fact, the key to how we differentiate ourselves from other providers in the vastly crowded and confusing world of customer experience solutions.

This concept certainly applies to a centerpiece of customer experience tools: the Customer Journey Map. Before we get to the details of Customer Journey Automation, let’s first take a very quick minute to review Journey Mapping and the tools used in this process.

Customer Journey Mapping

At its core, Customer Journey Mapping is simply charting the interactions a prospect/customer has with your brand. Some companies map both a current and desired state, and identify the changes required to achieve and then operate the desired state.

Journey Mapping tools abound, but they are not all the same. Consider that you can draw a Customer Journey with: just about any component of the Microsoft Office suite, CAD, Gliffy, and literally dozens of other tools. They each come with a broad (and sometimes unique) set of capabilities: some help prognosticate customer sentiment, and others will help build RACI matrices, for example.

Mapping Tool Limitations

The challenges with these tools are twofold:

  1. The journey maps they produce become outdated the minute they’re put into practice
  2. They don’t help you actually do anything. A truly useful solution will not only help you map out your customer journey, but also help you execute that journey.

Once you’re automating your customers’ journeys through a single system, you will then have copious data to analyze points of friction, tweak the journey, and iterate in a continuous improvement program.

Enter Customer Journey Automation

What if your journey mapping tool did just that? In addition to leveraging a purpose-built tool, unique to Customer Journey Mapping, it also automated that journey in a workflow?

Imagine, for example, someone opening up a new bank account. After they fill out the forms on whatever device(s) they please, they sign the application electronically, and the bank automatically sends an on-boarding kit containing starter checks, account information and legal disclaimers. What if that bank could then add milestones in their journey to send a check-up email if their account has had no activity in 30 days? Perhaps their response (or lack thereof) triggers different communications, in the language and format preferred by the customer?

That’s a pretty cool workflow, right?

Workflow?

Yes, it’s cool, but no, it’s not a workflow—and the difference is important. Our software contains both workflows and journeys. Both are built by your business users leveraging an intuitive graphical user interface. But, what’s the difference?

A workflow is Synchronous, a journey is Asynchronous. Let me explain:

Synchronous Workflow

A synchronous workflow is much like driving directions. You start at Point A, then move to Point B, where you have an option of turning left or right, and ending up at either Point C or Point D. You can’t go from A to C directly—you have to go to B first.

This logic is used widely by our customers. For example, a mobile phone provider seeking to generate and distribute a monthly statement to a customer might build this simplified workflow:

  1. Retrieve the Statement Template
  2. Gather the Data for the Statement
  3. Add a Personalized Sales Promotion
  4. Render a Final Document
  5. Distribute via the Customer’s Preferred Channel (print/mail, email, SMS with a link to an online statement, etc.).

It stands to reason that these steps must be followed in order: e.g. we cannot distribute the statement before we’ve rendered it.

Asynchronous Journey

An asynchronous customer journey recognizes reality—that customers are unpredictable. It allows for the fact that customers find unique ways to surprise us and not follow a well-designed journey map. In other words, they can skip around the journey in any order they choose.

For example, it is logical to assume that a prospective customer of an automobile insurance company would complete his application, and the policy be underwritten before he tries to file a claim for an accident. But, what if he doesn’t? The reality is, he just skipped one (or likely several) mileposts in the mapped journey. The insurance company will likely want to trigger certain events, including communications to the customer, agent, etc. as a result.

Moreover, the insurer will want to track the fact that the unexpected occurred, how often it occurs, and update their journey map appropriately.

Why You Care

As highlighted in our Customer Experience Automation page, PWC reports that customers are willing to pay a 16% premium for a better experience, and 32% are likely to leave a brand they love after a single bad one. Even worse, 13% of those that leave will tell 15 or more friends about their bad experience. It’s no wonder that the majority of companies today claim they compete primarily on Customer Experience. However, customer surveys indicate that companies are not providing the positive experiences they think they are.

To ensure consistent, high-quality engaging customer experiences at scale, they must be properly automated. At Ecrion, we believe the only way this can be accomplished is with an asynchronous customer journey automation tool that enables personalized, mechanized communications at scale, while empowering you to learn and revise the journey in a continuous improvement cycle. Does yours do that?

Article originally published on LinkedIn on January 21, 2020