It’s been another exciting year for us here at Kitewheel. We’ve seen a massive transformation in our business, particularly with how we support our customers. This transformation has given us a clearer picture of the path customer journeys will take in 2019 and how we can best support the changing landscape. In this post, we will share a few reflections on the successes and failures of customer journeys from 2018 and four key customer journey predictions for the new year.
Journeys in Review
2018 was a fascinating year for customer journeys all around the world. From our long-standing agency partners, to the growing OEM side of our business, or the expanding list of clients we’re working with directly, we’re seeing customer journeys delivered across bigger, more involved projects in every corner of the globe. This continues the trend for the past few years as more and more executives cite CX as a major driver for their business. Kitewheel also saw a surge of interest from brands and agencies in markets that are just beginning to bring customer journeys to life. As we reported in our State of the Customer Journey 2018, new channels, like chatbots came into focus and we saw an increase in the number of businesses ready to adopt more mature journey approaches. At the close of last year, I predicted that a major demand exists for improving customer experience through customer journey orchestration. That proved to be true in 2018, and we expect that 2019 will continue this growth.
We predict that in 2019:
- More brands will bring journeys in-house
- Mid-tier brands will get started with journey management
- Analytics initiatives will be the main driver of journey maturity
- Employee journeys will merge more tightly with customer journeys.
Key Customer Journey Trends in 2019
Brands Will Bring Journey Management In-House
From Kitewheel’s own experience, in-house initiatives have been the fastest growing way that businesses are bringing on customer journey solutions. Where direct business was the smallest portion of Kitewheel’s business at the close of 2017, it has ballooned within a year to be the largest. From peer conversations and our discussions with partners and clients, we understand this desire to bring customer journey work in-house to be an overall movement across industry. This trend will continue, but even more, so in 2019.
The reason for this change is that businesses are increasingly bringing customer journey skills in-house. Even if they use a third party to design content or support marketing planning, it is internal teams that set journey strategy and map overall experiences. These increasingly cover multiple areas of a business, not just held within marketing or customer service teams. So central teams are investing in customer journey project as a holistic customer approach, and we’ve seen this trend across all sorts of industries.
One thing that did not change significantly in 2018 was that other than a few innovative and disruptive clients, it is the biggest companies that are still leading the way. These businesses have tens of millions of customers and prospect records and have recognized the value of orchestrating journeys for everyone in their database. It’s been several years in the making, but adoption by these megabrands is accelerating, and that acceleration will continue in 2019.
Mid-tier Brands Get Started with Journey Management
What is new and different for 2019 is that mid-tier companies are starting to seek out journey management capabilities as well. Presently, our agency partners do work with medium to large brands, supporting journeys in these clients. What we predict is that in 2019, even businesses with a million or fewer contacts are going to begin adopting customer journey orchestration as an internal business practice. While adoption will take more time to trickle down from the biggest companies to that second tier of large businesses, 2019 is the year we predict this process will start to take off. The customer journey adoption range will continue to expand downward as customer journey capabilities proliferate in the market. We predict that by 2022, we will be seeing true customer journey orchestration packaged as applications for even small to medium sized businesses.
Analytics Will Continue As a Major Initiative
In 2018, we saw more clients interested in our journey analytics capabilities than ever before, and Journey Analytics will continue to be a driving force in this year. We’ve seen recently that companies are thinking more about doing the right thing and using analytics to understand current customer journey behavior and thus determine what changes will have the greatest impact on the customer experience. This is quite different from some traditional journey approaches, which focus on fixing specific problems to bridge gaps in the customer experience and automate customer contacts. What we have seen is that problems are fixed and gaps are filled naturally when businesses adopt a customer journey analytics approach. This is a more scientific process, that takes business hypotheses and puts them to the test. This lets businesses look at each experience of the customer and really understand each interaction in the context of a cohesive journey.
We predict that in 2019, companies just starting down the road to journey orchestration will be more eager to begin with a push into journey analytics. The trend for the new year will continue to be that data-driven approaches will thrive over systems that only connect together one or two systems. Instead of assuming they already know where their problems lie, businesses will use this approach to figure out what customers are currently experiencing and improve their journey performance. Then they will move on to orchestrating optimal journeys. This change may seem subtle, but it is critical to improve overall journey maturity.
Employee Journeys Will Tie Together Employee and Customer Experience
What are employee journeys? For our avid customer journey audience, the term is likely not a new one, so I’ll be brief. The employee journey is the sum of all interactions an employee has with the business, linked across every day that they work, every tool that they use, and every customer they speak to. It’s this final part that we think is particularly interesting for the customer journey space.
In 2018 and earlier, Kitewheel has worked on many projects that connect systems that employees use on a daily basis while interacting with customers. These tablets, chat windows, and CRM screens link data on customer activity to empower employee success. Just as a customer can onboard, become loyal, and be part of a lifecycle, so too can an employee. In 2019 we predict that businesses will consider the employee journey and the customer journey as inexorably linked. This will become more and more important in 2019 as businesses struggle to track and retain top staff. Journey management technology will be a natural fit to help with this.
Companies already use employee support and automation technology and have tried many ways to measure employee engagement, activity, loyalty to the business, their workflows, and more. Where we expect to see real change in the marketplace is the synchronization of customer and employee journeys. When the customer journey requires an employee to do something, Kitewheel can connect those to activities. We fully expect that by the end of this year, automated processes will be helping to improve not only the customer experience but also HR, managers, and business unit leaders. This will enable them to not only track employee performance but also enhance it by integrating it seamlessly with the customer journey.
When we started Kitewheel, we knew that Journey Orchestration was going to be big, and we haven’t been proven wrong. If you’re curious just how big Journey Orchestration has become, we recommend you read the State of the Customer Journey 2018 report. This year, our journey predictions are that more businesses than ever will bring customer journeys in-house, that they will focus more and more on journey analytics, and that customer journeys and employee journeys will begin to align. To all of our employees, partners, clients, and friends we want to thank you for a wonderful 2018. One more thing we are certain of is that the new year holds many exciting surprises for us all. Cheers and happy new year.