8 Key Customer Journey Technology Capabilities

Woman checking in for an appointment, her customer experience will shape her relationship with the brand.

How can you make a customer journey come to life? With dozens of tools in a crowded and confusing market, it is difficult to distill which capabilities really matter. Do you need to be able to do mapping in the same tool you use for analytics, do you really need a real-time decisioning tool, where does journey analytics fall in all of this? These questions can often be a challenge, even for businesses that have already begun journey programs. So which customer journey technology capabilities do you need to succeed?

In a time when customer journey management is table stakes and with 81% of businesses competing primarily on CX, it’s crucial to have the right capabilities in your tool kit. We truly believe that the 8 key customer journey capabilities we’ve put together below are everything you need to deliver a truly unified, cohesive, and real-time experience that gets better with every iteration. For convenience, we’ve aligned these capabilities under four broad categories: data fusion, journey design and planning, journey orchestration and automation, and journey testing and automation.

Data Fusion – Enabling a Unified Journey

Systems are being integratedThe truth is that business leaders have more data than ever but figuring out what to do with it remains a challenge. Not only do you need to collect data, you need to take the data you’ve connected and do something with it. The following two capabilities are needed to ensure your data is ready for customer journey management.

1) Data and System Integration

Your systems have to be connected and ready for data to flow across the business. Ideally, you have a tool with a library of connectors, and web services APIs so that you can connect with virtually any data source and retrieve real-time contextual data. If you are able to take information from a marketing, customer service, or other system and transfer it cleanly and legibly to all other relevant systems in real-time then you have achieved this core customer journey capability.

2) Anonymous to Known Identity Management 

To properly influence people at every point on their customer journey, you must “progressively profile” to aggregate better and more up-to-date information on each individual interacting with your brand. Ideally, you have a tool that can sync cookies, behavioral predictions, geographic data, and 3rd party data sources to create a complete picture of the individual.  Ultimately, you must be able to build a history of each customer from the time they first interacted with your business to the end of their lifecycle. 

Journey Design and Planning – Creating Cohesive Experiences

Design on a whiteboard? No! Use a journey mapping tool like Kitewheel'sWhile getting your data sorted is a critical step for customer journey management, it’s not useful unless you can do something with it. The first part of getting value from your journey efforts comes from planning a cohesive experience across the customer lifecycle. This is the foundational work used to build processes, logic, and paths to support the customer journey, rather than simply analyze or connect data on the journey. We find that the following two capabilities are perhaps the most crucial for businesses trying to prove the value of customer journey management.

3) Intuitive Journey Mapping 

Journey mapping as a practice has been around for longer than full life-cycle journey management technology, but it remains crucial to have a best-of-breed journey mapping tool to design and plan customer journeys. This capability is fundamental to understanding the overall shape and flow of the journey and should let you visually see if certain transitions and hand-offs make sense. The strongest journey mapping tools even connect directly to your data, letting you see analytically where the process works or doesn’t.

4) Rules-Based Decisioning

One area that many businesses struggle with is creating a system of rules and decision trees that fill every possible customer need. They need to be able to build and plan these rules in order to orchestrate and ultimately influence the journey in real time. Businesses must have a tool that holds the logic for their customer journey program or else any planning or mapping they undertake will simply be visionary, not impacting reality.

Journey Orchestration and Automation – Driving Real-Time Experiences

Take flight with your customer journeyThere are many mapping and analytics tools that businesses turn to for customer journeys, but businesses must be able to take analytics and data, and turn “actionable data” into action, content recommendations and more. This capability set is often overlooked but is ultimately the driving force behind improvements to the customer journey program. The following two capabilities are related but subtly different and businesses need both to truly thrive.

5) Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence has become a core capability of many products. Machine learning tools support optimization across various technologies and channels. For most brands, building an in-house AI tool is beyond the realm of possibility. Instead, to achieve this capability, business leaders look to tools that can make decisions by consulting powerful AI tools like IBM’s Watson. Whether you purchase a solution that has an AI tool embedded, or simply one that connects to another AI platform, it must be able to take the AI-lead analysis and make adaptive next best decisioning choices. 

6) A Real-Time Personalization Engine

To stay competitive, modern businesses must be able to present and customize offers, communications, and touchpoints based on where customers are in their journey. This “show me you know me” capability requires a tool that can use all past interactions to deliver an excellent customer experience. A real-time personalization engine allows this to happen by taking the rules, maps, and AI-Powered decisions you’ve already created to drive action across the business. This capability allows you to finally move from planning to action. 

Journey Testing and Optimization – Improving Every Day

Determine the right KPIs using a journey step framework for best analytics results

One of the biggest changes that comes with implementing a customer journey management program is how you look at metrics and analytics. Connecting data across time, continuously, provides a very different view from traditional measurement efforts. While the other six capabilities are just as crucial to making customer journeys happen in your business, the following two have an additional role: proving the value of your customer journey efforts back to the business.  

7) Measurement & Reporting 

Every element of an interaction between a company and a customer is a potentially valuable data point for your business.  Being able to parse out which ones matter and in what combination is crucial. When this is done right, strategists can better understand the flow of customers and customer pain points or as part of a downloadable summary report. A good measurement and reporting tool will help you actively identify what matters, possibly by using a journey step framework. 

8) Customer Journey Analytics 

Just as important as being able to tell what is working and report on success or failure is being able to get to a root cause analysis. This might begin with a process of journey discovery to look at your current state journey, but after you’ve made changes, you should be able to see which of those changes influenced which outcomes. This allows you to improve the journey quickly, enabling you to change your journey orchestration tool settings to optimize future results. 

Eight Capabilities: One Tool 

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea that you need to build or buy eight new tools to make the customer journey come to life for your business, then don’t worry. You don’t need eight tools to fulfill all key customer journey technology capabilities Most journey management hubs are able to solve most of these challenges within a single interface to various degrees. If you’re ready to get started with customer journey orchestration and want to know how to identify the right tool for you, check out our Buyer’s Guide to Customer Journey Orchestration.

Alternatively, if you’ve already done your research and you are ready for a live demonstration of the Kitewheel Hub, we would be happy to walk you through our own core capabilities and answer any questions you may have.