5 Keys to Effective Customer Journey Maps

As companies compete for market leadership position, it is quite easy for them to focus internally – either on processes to improve efficiency in delivery of their product, or on research and development to remain competitive. This can distract from understanding the market for which they are competing. Understanding how the market views, interacts and deals with their company is equally important.

Customer Journey Maps are an effective tool for companies to document customer perspective and identify key interaction points to monitor measure and improve upon the entire customer journey. This practice results in enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. The more touch points you have, the more complicated it becomes.

Creating Customer Journey Maps can be arduous, but the end result, if done correctly, can help all facets of the company understand how customers interact with, and perceive the company in the market. Consider these points when creating Customer Journey Maps:

1. Don’t rely on generic client demographic data, instead determine the segmentation of your customer base

Find an appropriate balance between high level demographic based research and result data from an existing customer base.  For example, the general expectation is that older customers are less likely to use alternative communication channels, such as chat, social media or SMS.

However, in the print media industry, a segment of their interactions come from a more senior population who own multiple properties and migrate between them throughout the year. These senior clients are largely migratory and do not own a land line. Instead, they perform their interactions from a mobile device and are proficient in the use of alternative media channels.

Often, decisions are made on general assumptions about customer behavioral traits that aren’t always true. Most companies don’t regularly gather customer perspectives or share the insights when they do. But without an outside view on what is important, and what does or doesn’t work, your journey map will lack an accurate view of the customer, leading to decisions based on incomplete or flawed information.

2. Avoid analysis paralysis

Given the breadth of data available, it’s easy to include lots of it. This can result in dizzying complexity.

Remember, you are creating a tool to help you easily understand the customer and identify what is most important to them.

Create customer journeys that represent the largest customer interaction segments to achieve consensus to move forward with design, measurement and optimization. As with any collaborative process, define a decision structure with the right levels of empowerment. The goal is not to make everyone happy, instead, find the most efficient solutions to satisfy the customer experience.

Keep your strategic goals in the forefront to guide you in your employment of journey maps.

3. View as a living iterative process

What may be true today may not be true tomorrow. Invest in efforts to maintain a customer journey map that evolves according to the changing needs of the customer. Customer habits can change quickly in the new social world and must be reviewed regularly to address new habits.

4. Establish key interaction points

Identify points of bottleneck, inefficiency, and positive service levels. Journey events of significant impact have a greater bearing on the customer’s perspective of the company. Great journey maps separate critical moments from the rest.

A customer journey map helps to identify gaps, and disjointed or painful customer experiences, such as:

  • Gaps between information channels when users receive mixed messaging across various channels
  • Gaps between departments where users get frustrated with internal communication issues

5. Measure value at key interaction points

Contact Centers are a collection of complex software processes that generate a tremendous amount of interaction data. Most contact centers rely on traditional analysis, such as manual data gathering, text editors and generic log analysis tools in an attempt to understand the data and the customer experience.

Identifying those key customer touch points is not enough. You must set up your environment to correctly measure and track outcomes around key interactions.

A centralized system that breaks down the silos of measurement, minimizes the need for multiple tools, establishes a common set of measurements, and offers a holistic view of all interactions is a key consideration. The solution must have the ability to:

  • Capture all events around all customer interactions and easily enable analysis of that data
  • Provide a near real-time visibility to trends and issues
  • Provide the ability to anticipate trouble in key interaction areas
  • Allow quick drill down and provide cradle to grave visibility of the entire interaction experience

Investigating a customer experience from cradle to grave with traditional tools requires intensive manual efforts and consolidation of data form various systems. Streamlining tools, such as CIMplicity Visualizer, captures as much of the experience as possible, by reducing analysis and maintenance overhead.

4 Key Takeaways from G-Force 2015

G-Force 2015 was held at the beautiful Fontainebleau Hotel located on the white sandy beaches of South Miami. For many, that may be the most memorable part of the conference this year. This could hold especially true for those who danced Tuesday night away at the party presented by Empirix. For others, the shear whirlwind of activity can be overwhelming.

For either group, the following list might help to refocus on (what many will agree are) the main take away points from this year’s conference:

1.  Omni-channel

For several years, the focus for Genesys has been multi-channel. Multi-channel is about providing customers with different ways to engage with a company, such as SMS, email or chat. Omni-channel is about the use of multiple channels over multiple interactions within the context of a single request or transaction.

For example, a customer may initiate a transaction on the web, start a chat while there, or share a browser session with an agent to submit a form. Then, the customer will anticipate a call back to complete the process. In some instances, the customer may call the company to follow-up on the request. All these separate interactions share a single context, which is to fulfill the customer request or transaction. This omni-channel experience is also referred to as the “customer journey”.

2. Customer Experience (CX) Will be the Differentiator

For years, companies were able to eke out an advantage if they had the technology or applications in place to provide a service. The look or feel of technology didn’t matter, as long as it served a useful function. The ATM comes to mind. Most recently the design and interface of applications took a front seat and customers started to expect a better user experience to go along with the expected functionality.

Think about the mobile banking apps that allow cheques to be deposited by simply taking a picture! Now, especially with millennials taking over, it is expected that all applications will be highly functional and have a rich user experience. So, that leaves companies with finding ways to differentiate themselves; many are anticipating that the CX will be the way.

This could be achieved by enabling a customer to use the mobile app to request a callback or place an inbound call where the context of their experience and login is passed along first to the routing platform and then to the agent.

3. The Internet of Things

IoT is going to play a significant role in customer experience. Customers are going to be able to engage through devices that go far beyond mobile phones. Likewise, customers are going to expect companies to proactively contact them and provide an active not a passive service.

An example that comes to mind is the water filter in my fridge. It would be great if instead of just notifying me that the filter needs to be changed, it offers to have the company contact me to place an order for the correct filter for my fridge. I get a call and provide my credit card number and in a few days the filter shows up. In this engagement, they may even get me on a subscription for auto-renewal instead of having to call me.

4. Artificial Intelligence is Coming (Is here!)

IBM is positioning Watson as the forerunner of the Cognitive Era. The Cognitive Era replaces the Programming Era in which rules were followed through setup and configuration with the result of the same experience being applied to many. In the Cognitive Era, systems adapt and learn to customize the experience. The big difference is that systems in the new era can detect patterns and learn and adapt, which create a unique user experience.

I won’t go in depth here but I encourage people to learn more about what Watson is. Watson represents a significant move towards artificial intelligence and auto-attendant capabilities. It doesn’t replace the agent. In fact, Watson can be used to help the agent. But the speed at which AI is improving is staggering and slightly frightening.

For most companies, there remains a gap between where they are today with their current solutions, and the key capabilities listed with these highlights from G-Force mentioned above. The companies leading the way in better engagement with their customers are able to close that gap quickly.

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Visualizer Success Stories by West Corporation and PacifiCorp

At G-Force 2015, Aria Solutions’ product team together with Daniel Vetro, Director of Information Services from West Corporation, and Todd McCall, Voice Systems Engr. 3 from PacifiCorp, discussed how CIMplicity™ Visualizer is helping to streamline operations and improving the customer journey.


Chris: CIMplicity Visualizer is an analytics tool developed by Aria, and is available now on the Genesys AppFoundry. It actively listens to your interaction events that are transmitted in the Genesys environment, collects the events, and stores them in a flat file storage format and then makes the results visible in our Visualizer application.

Ron: Dan, could you talk about the biggest challenge you face on a day-to-day basis?

Daniel: When you’re a service provider, you have a lot of clients that are trying to get that information and then make sense of it in different formats. A big part of leveraging this tool is the ability to validate when an incident or an issue comes in. It allowed us to get in much faster and validate that it is in fact an issue, along with a visual representation. It takes a lot of the time out of the debate that is spent on identifying if there is really a problem.

Ron: Todd, how about you? What are some challenges that you are faced with at PacifiCorp when running your daily operations?

Todd: We are a single tenant, but we do have two contact centers. Each contact center is on its own routing engine. That creates two sets of log files. And you know, 20 megabytes of log files can be very difficult to work with. What Visualizer brings to the table is the ability to merge log files, so I can merge multiple files together, and now I have a one hour image of the call center, or alternatively, the full day visual representation. For us, it is the segmentation and the size of the log files.

Ron: Daniel, what were some motivations around selecting Visualizer?

Daniel: For us, another big motivation was staff. We had some decent turnover at different periods. You have to teach new hires about logs and documentation. It’s much easier when you have a centralized tool that allows you to do that. We can get teams up to speed much faster, by focusing on the platform and not on the logs.

Daniel: For us, another big motivation was staff. We had some decent turnover at different periods. You have to teach new hires about logs and documentation. It’s much easier when you have a centralized tool that allows you to do that. We can get teams up to speed much faster, by focusing on the platform and not on the logs.

Ron: Chris, what about some other clients we have talked to? I know we’ve had some feedback from some users about identification of patterns and trends. What have you seen in that area?

Chris: The rendering of visual images leads to pattern recognition. We are able to see what successful calls, activities and patterns normally look like. One of our clients noticed a series of very dense calls that have arrived with very short established times through Visualizer. It stood out in Visualizer and did not fit the standard pattern of normal calls. When we looked deeper, we found that the agent was taking the calls and immediately transferring them back into the original queue. This would improve his Total Calls Handled metric and AHT for that day, but the customer was having the experience of being double-queued. This would not have been detected in standard agent reports but stood out quite clearly in Visualizer.

Ron: The visual representation really does help expose what would be virtually impossible to see through log analysis or other traditional forms of research. Todd, could you give an example around how you were leveraging Visualizer, in an effort to improve operations as you have transitioned from Avaya?

Todd: Actually, Visualizer is the first tool in our tool kit. Whenever we get a report from the business about an issue, this is the first place we go to. We had an event where the call center called us and said that they were not getting any more calls. This is incredibly frightening, particularly on Saturday. So, I opened Visualizer and I could immediately see five-six hours of activities. As you scrolled down, you could see this one VDN that was just black with the activity. This is where all calls were landing, and I knew exactly where to start troubleshooting.

Ron: Great! Chris, what are some other things that you have seen when working with other clients around proactively identifying things before an issue is reported?

Chris: If you are looking at IVR ports in Visualizer, the pattern would be standardized – a ringing an event, followed by and established where the port would play treatment or a message. In Visualizer, it would appear as a short yellow, followed by blue. But, simply scrolling over IVR ports and seeing ports that have only a yellow color indicates quickly and clearly that the customer, sent to those ports on, is only experiencing continuous ringing. Visually, this fact jumps out quickly and can be dealt with proactively.

Ron: Would you agree that focus on the facts and data tends to improve communications with customers? And how has Visualizer helped with making that a more collaborative process?

Daniel: From the perspective of a service provider, often the people we deal with, when analyzing issues, are non-technical in background. They are often looking at the problem from a call flow or business perspective. Providing a visual representation makes the conversation a much easier one to have, instead of pointing to lines of text from various log files. Visualizer has helped tremendously with the ability to export metrics and provide screenshots of the actual call activity.

Ron: After the initial kickoff, how long did it take the project to complete and put you in a position of collecting production data?

Daniel: It was very fast. We completed installation in 3 separate environments. The work was completed in 5 business days, which also included some brief on-site Knowledge Transfer. The touch point sessions have been a huge benefit for us. It has allowed the team to familiarize themselves with the application, and be able to bring back real-life scenarios to the sessions. We compare how traditional methods would have solved this issue to what Visualizer can now do in a matter of a few seconds, as opposed to hours.

Todd: It was pretty simple actually. It was very straightforward and easy to understand. It built my confidence in having to administer the system going forward. The actual installation took about an hour and a half, and the overall project took about 3 weeks to actively be collecting production data. A great addition is the post deployment touch-point calls to allow us to use the product and return with questions on functionality and assistance in constructing useful queries.

Ron: Was there any special change or accommodation to work flow or process, as a result of this new Visualizer implementation?

Daniel: We still have people who are used to traditional log analysis methods, but we’re pushing to get customers into the mindset of going to Visualizer as the first step, when dealing with issues. With Visualizer, we find that instead of escalating through the tiers to an engineering level, we’re continuing to push the conversations down to the lowest possible level of support. This has proven to be an unexpected benefit from Visualizer. Previously, items that had to go to more senior and more expensive technicians are now being handled at the lower levels. That’s allowed for more resources to be freed up to work on revenue generating projects.

Todd: Sending someone an email with log text is hard to understand. Our process is now changed to provide Visualizer screenshots. And through those images, our businesses can see and understand exactly the issue at hand. Visual representations from Visualizer speak volumes in seconds, faster than we can even explain the issues verbally.

Ron: What are some of the other best practices seen with other clients?

Chris: Best practice for all our Visualizer clients has been to make Visualizer the first step in the analysis process. Typically, in Genesys environments, the bulk of the time analyzing issues is spent triaging of logs and the gathering of logs from various servers in the environment. As many Genesys users know, logs tend to roll over very quickly in large environments, resulting in calls spanning multiple logs from a single application. Calls that may be transferred across sites now involve multiple TServers applications. Visualizer’s consolidation of all this information gets you to that point quicker. Visualizer cuts out that whole lead time of gathering the information, so users start with the issue… For example, a 5000-seat contact center has reduced resolution times from 4 to 6 hours down to 30 mins to 1 hour. The director of this group has stated that if Visualizer were to go away, they would all quit “en masse”.

Audience: Is there a situation that you can’t track with Visualizer?

Todd: We were trying to track an event with Visualizer, and couldn’t find it there. We then checked our SIP logs, SIP Proxy logs, Tserver logs and couldn’t find it there. It turned out that the call never hit our Genesys platform. If you don’t see it in Visualizer, it didn’t go to the Genesys environment.

Chris: If an interaction has touched the Genesys environment in any way, it will generate an event and that will be captured by Visualizer. Because Visualizer is listening to the data stream directly, it is not dependent on the logs themselves. We’ve found that when the event string becomes too long, logs can potentially truncate the event, thus missing a piece of the overall picture.


Understanding Contact Center Trends Ahead of Next Year’s Budget

Lots of people, including myself, are in the throws of budget season right now. It can be a stressful time. It brings to light how the current year has unfolded, have targets for the year been met, have budgets been exceeded or not being used. And if that is the case then – will those ‘extra’ funds be allocated to other areas in the company?

On top of this stress is the likelihood that you will have to present to upper management, financial officers and executives, which can be a daunting tasks in itself.

For most people, the budget and planning season is a look at the past results within your specific business. Geoffrey Moore, in his book “Escape Velocity”, refers to this inward view as the “pull of the past”. It doesn’t include market or industry perspective, and it doesn’t include insight from outside of your department or organization. To combat this, Moore suggests that “you and your colleagues take time to develop and bring to the table an outside-in, market-centric perspective”. This is where I believe Aria can help.

Aria has developed a three step process called SmartStart that can help organizations chart a path and budget that includes “industry insight”. The three step plan is part of Aria’s initiative to help contact centres move beyond looking in the rear-view mirror when creating budgets and plans. We want to enable contact centres to become customer engagement centres.

First, Aria provides a look at the Customer Engagement industry as whole. We use our 17 years of experience, combined with analysis from research firms, to present current and future trends. We then work with you to better understand your business and help create a roadmap that includes a cost-benefit analysis of the customer engagement technologies – tailored to your business goals.

Aria doesn’t stop there. They aim to stay engaged with clients and meet with them at regular intervals to help refine and adapt the roadmap to ever-changing needs and demands.

You may feel that you are already too deep into the budget and planning season. Perhaps, you are; but the next budget and planning season, like winter, will be upon us before we realize it. By engaging Aria with SmartStart early on, you may just enter the season with a new level or readiness.

As Moore states, “The world is more powerful than you. The market is more powerful than you. Your customers are more powerful than you. And the sum of all your partners and competitors – the ecosystem – is more powerful than you…so given the enormous challenge of counterbalancing the inertial momentum of last year’s plan, what do you say we tap into some of these external sources of power to give you company a boost?”

Learn more about Aria’s free SmartStart program here.

The Symbolic SWIFT

One of the fastest and most agile birds on the planet is the swift bird. Its remarkable wing structure shows a steadily gliding bird. To prevent exhaustion, the wing converts potential energy to counteract the aerodynamic forces.

The wing features a non-powered flight, with fixed wings at a constant flight speed. In other words, the swift demonstrates nature’s ability to turn adversity into a benefit.

Last week, Aria boldly assigned the SWIFT bird as the new symbol of Aria’s solution line, which shows similarity to the swift bird wing:

Agility – The  solution contains a wide range of capabilities, and like the bird’s wing, it employs force, by leveraging Aria’s contact center expertise in collaborative requirements and solution design sessions.

Speed – Like a fast bird, the Swift solutions limits wasted time on customization, and offers a 60 day deployment option.

Control – The Swift solution is built, maintained and supported easily, through simple configurations.

Maneuverability – The software, hardware, and omni-channel features a rich and a broad suite, which adapts to any environment.

Adversity into Benefit – It’s more affordable and lower risk than traditional custom implementations, which increases SWIFT’s return on investment.

While SWIFT solutions are suitable for many contact centers right out of the box, it can be expanded to provide the capabilities of larger and more expensive solutions. The line currently includes the SWIFT Premises solution and SWIFT assets.