Using data to enhance your customer journey maps

Why understanding customer expectations is a kind of alchemy

Trust, but verify. You’re likely familiar with the phrase. It’s a translation of a Russian proverb that boils down to the idea that belief needs to be backed up by observational data. For customer experience (CX) professionals this means using all available data sources to bolster your customer insights, understand the value of critical moments and track customer ease and satisfaction as they interact with your brand.

Start, but don’t end, with your hypotheses map

Customer journey maps – insights tools at their core – should continually strive to achieve the most accurate, empathetic view of customer needs, motivations and pain points. They are built to see things through the end-to-end experience of the customer, and then identify gaps or opportunities where brands can add value. These gaps or opportunities give CX designers goals by which to design repeatable and delightful interactions at those critical moments in the journey.

Many customer journey maps are a composite of team knowledge (based on observations of the customer experience) and customer research (such as user experience [UX] surveys and interviews). Both sources are great for hypothesising what happens throughout the journey and why – but there are additional ways to layer data that help illustrate what’s actually happening.

Pay attention to what customers do, not just what they say

At The Lacek Group, we’ve observed that what people do (behavioural data) is more relevant than what they look like (demographic data) or what they say they do (attitudinal data).

The use of advanced analytics can reveal opportunities you might otherwise miss. Using a generic customer journey map from the hotel industry as an example, here is a list of data layers you could use to validate or challenge your assumptions about your customers’ experience:

Customer journey map 1

1. Transactional data

While pure transactional data will provide some insights, it’s the context around purchasing data that brings it to life.

The ‘utilise services’ moment: Transactions show that there is a low hotel bar and restaurant spend per stay with our key audience, the high-end business traveller. Deeper analysis identifies that a higher spend correlates with check-ins after 7:00 pm. Here’s an engagement opportunity: cross-promote the restaurant at check-in.

2. Digital data

Identify gaps or opportunities in the micro-moments of the digital journey using third-party tools. Early in the journey, Google often has a critical influence on which brands enter the selection set. Using third-party tools like SEMrush or Google Keyword Planner, you can see the demand for non-branded search terms and how your brand performs in them. Similar tools can help audit for gaps in social channels (RivalIQ) or email (ESPs, ReturnPath).

Check-in moment: Customer research shows that consumers who use hotel apps are more satisfied with the brand in general. Using a third-party app tool like Appbot, you can see whether the reviews for mobile check-in functionality are significantly less favourable than your competitors’. This can reveal a gap in the check-in experience.

3. Emotional data

Bolster your emotional insights across the journey by employing emotional analytics. These software providers translate facial expressions and vocal tones into emotional categories such as fear, anger or joy.

Digging deeper into the check-in moment: Running review data from Appbot through text-analysis software reveals that the most intensely negative emotion about mobile check-in arises when the mobile-key function doesn’t work properly. This illustrates the importance of boosting its reliability.


4. Correlation or regression analysis

Whether you call it a micro-moment, critical moment or moment of truth, parts of the journey demand extra attention and resources. But which ones? Use traditional analysis to find the right answer for your customers.

Prioritising moments: With limited resources do you invest in the moment customers check-in, when they reach an earning milestone or when they redeem the reward? The check-in experience might seem like the obvious choice and a team vote bolsters that view. But a close analysis reveals that member reward redemption correlates with higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS), retention and long-term value. Here the data challenges the straw vote.

5. Trending data

Let’s face it, since the pandemic and subsequent economic disruption, people are changing their behaviour patterns. The travel industry, for example, has seen profound changes in customer behaviour patterns. Be sure to look at your data with that in mind. As you design and revise the user experience, identify shifts in customer behaviours and use that information to project what you expect to see in the future.

Apply all the available data to understand and exceed your customers’ expectations

Customer expectations evolve with every new smartphone release, cutting-edge app and unforeseen market disruption. Once Amazon offered Prime users free delivery, it became the industry expectation. Understanding those expectations is a kind of alchemy – part art and part science.

Certainly, the informed observations of people inside and outside the walls of your company are valuable insights. Equally useful is data about what customers actually do. Combining all the available information to continually refresh customer journey maps is critical. That’s how you can ensure your CX design is built on a clear and encompassing view of what matters to your customers.

In today’s fast-moving digital landscape, we probably need to update the proverb. We’re navigating a ‘trust, but verify – and then verify, and verify, and verify again’ world.

Joe Rueckert

The Lacek Group

published on

23 November 2020


Experience Commerce

Related Topics

Consumer behaviour

More in Experience

White text reading 'AI-driven audio description' with WPP and Microsoft logos on a blue and purple background

Let’s add audio for visually impaired audiences

How to make advertising more accessible for visually impaired audiences

Path of flowers the colour of Peach Fuzz, Pantone Color of the Year 2024

The Future 100: wellbeing, humanity, emotion and tech

This annual trend spotter – by WPP’s VML – gives us the context for the new normal for marketing in 2024.

Red and turquoise graphic with footballs and icons

Activating sports events – the ultimate balancing act

WPP Sports Practice takes a look at the art of timing for sports event activation