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Mechele Herres's picture
Marketing Utility 2030 Collaborative

Customer obsessed in the utility and federal government verticals as a marketer. Started with an IOU in marketing and helped start up two new companies that focused on developing and marketing...

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From a Reactive to a Proactive Customer Experience

Posted to Utility 2030 Collaborative in the Customer Care Group

image credit: Shutterstock

As a marketer I have scratched my head and pondered the concept of creating an all-encompassing customer journey. I have never found an easy way of continually monitoring all customer interactions to address issues or make changes to customer information and preferences. Most businesses have disparate systems, reports with conflicting information that must be manually manipulated, and business siloes where each cross-functional group typically has differing goals and objectives. And if that doesn’t make things fuzzy enough, we now have multiple contact channels to interact within marketing, products  and customer service.

My enthusiasm for seeing a potential light at the end of the proverbial tunnel occurred after attending a recent webinar. Several vendors talked about how they are helping organizations create, improve, and manage their customer journey through Customer Journey Orchestration technology solutions that offer integrated, actionable, and real-time views of the customer creating a seamless customer experience.

My goal is to share my findings with you so you can begin to explore this option for your own business.

Where Customer Analytics Are Falling Short

Customer analytics are usually static and often delayed at the utility enterprise, because they are a past view of what happened at the end of the customer journey (i.e. descriptive analytics).

The data is usually coming from many different channels and silos within the company. And you often get different reports that don’t even match. How many different channels, touchpoints, and cross-functional teams do you have?  And are you able to access all of the data from these sources? It is frustrating for any leader to try to gather a complete set of information with ease.

What makes it harder is that most leaders want to analyze the data to get insights to sell more products and services, not solve customer experience issues.

Why Surveys Aren’t Enough

Sending CX surveys to gather insightful, detailed information about the customer experience also falls short, because it happens at the end of the customer journey. As McKinsey reports in Prediction: The Future of CX, there are many flaws to traditional CX measurements. This can be seen in the graphic below:

Keeping Up with a Moving Target

With the COVID-19 pandemic, customer behaviors changed significantly, overnight. Moreover, the way companies, employees, and employers interact—which has significant impact on customers—also changed. We’re built to survive, and COVID showed us just how quickly we can evolve.

Our adaptability, while encouraging, further muddies the waters when it comes to the customer journey.

Today it is more important than ever to put customers at the center of your organization (customer-centricity) and do your best to stay ahead of their needs. Companies that put the customer at the end of everything they do—through descriptive analytics and surveys—will be the ones that struggle the most when circumstances throw a curve ball. And as we all get more digitally savvy, inconsistencies in customer experience will no longer be tolerated, or will damage your brand, no matter who you are.

The Value of Customer Journey Orchestration

Forrester Research defines journey orchestration tools as those that “help fuse data across channels, touch points, and systems along the customer journey, to design and plan current – and future-state journeys, test and optimize journey hypotheses, and orchestrate tasks among stakeholders and with customers.” This is done through technology that includes predictive and prescriptive analytics.

According to Forbes, “Businesses that transform the customer journey through orchestration can reap significant rewards. There are some noteworthy statistics of what companies are realizing implementing journey orchestration. A recent BCG study shows that companies realize a 20%-40% improvement in customer advocacy and see revenue increases between 10%-20%.”

Solution Providers

Forrester breaks out its vendor analysis for journey orchestration companies into 4 categories:

  • Leaders: Kitewheel, Usermind, Thunderhead, Pointillist, Alterian, NICE
  • Strong Performers: Roojoom, Coveo
  • Contenders: BryterCX, Engage Hub
  • Challengers: inQuba

The research firm also provides an Excel-based, vendor comparison tool to help weigh your options. And there are other companies out there providing options as well.

Some journey orchestration companies are starting to recommend “journey as a service” that claim to offer a quick start and are affordable for any budget. Learn your options by doing your research.

Getting Started

The key to customer journey orchestration is to start small and first have company leaders agree to the desired business outcome goals and KPIs. Take a segment of your business and start there.

A great resource is the Forrester Wave: Journey Orchestration Platforms, Q2 2020 and you can find a free download online from some of the vendors that provide the service.

Conclusion

Effective Customer Journey Orchestration is impossible using inadequate methods like descriptive analytics and post-journey surveys.

Customer Journey Orchestration technologies make it possible to pull everything together to create an all-inclusive journey and proactively—through predictive and prescriptive analytics—help guide that journey instead of simply letting it happen and figuring out what went wrong (or right) later. Giving you a holistic view of your customers’ behaviors is a great way to keep up with your all-important and ever-changing customer.

For More:

Forbes Article –  Journey Orchestration: The New Frontier for Customer-Centric Technology

Utility 2030 Collaborative
We are a community of business professionals building a blueprint for the digital customer-centric utility of the future by defining and creating content, frameworks, standards, and the people who will lead us forward.
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mark wilkinson's picture
mark wilkinson on May 11, 2021

I agree with your insights and some of your skepticism regarding the all encompassing customer journeys.  Even for cutting edge and customer obsessed brands, connecting all the dots in a lifelong customer journey remains a bit of a holy grail for the industry.  Glad to see companies making progress.  

And, I'll add a wrinkle.  For utilities with nascent Voice of the Customer programs, even the existing surveys can lack actionable insights.  We've all seen the comprehensive operations style surveys that judge only the satisfaction customers volunteer across multiple touch points with the utility.  Most of those legacy CSAT surveys treat every category with equal significance, even though customers don't care equally for all aspects of a utility program.   Without sentiment analysis to help us understand how much customers care about different milestones in the overall journey, most VOC programs are tone deaf to how important those milestones are to each customer. 

It's critical for utilities to gather more meaningful insights from multiple feedback loops across multiple milestones to truly develop actionable intelligence for decision making.  Journey orchestration can be a leap forward, especially after utilities capture their journeys in detail and at minimum establish multi-dimensional VoC programs.  

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