Real-Time Journey Excellence: Moving Beyond COVID Disruption

In the past year and a half, video conferencing and a remote reality has become the norm. Brands must adapt to this to move to a strategic footing.

After a year stuck indoors, consumers have new expectations regarding the digital experiences brands deliver every day. It is no longer adequate to simply have a digital option. That’s because today consumers look for their digital experiences to be both real-time and exceptional. Businesses have rightfully been focused on adapting to the disruption of COVID and trying to move beyond them. To meet the new demands of their customers, they are looking for real-time insights and analytics to help them create journey strategies that will meet their customers’ needs.

In a recent webinar hosted by Kitewheel a CSG company, Mark Smith discussed how businesses can move from adaptation mode to strategic footing with guest speaker Rusty Warner, VP at Forrester Research. In their discussion, they shared a few ways analytics have changed in the past year, how journeys can incorporate real-time interactions and the true ROI that journeys can generate. We share a summary of the conversation below, but don’t miss the on-demand webinar for more information.

Changes To Journey Analytics in 2021

Analytics remains a key part of journey managementWhile real-time analytics are already becoming the norm for customer journey strategies, the last year has seen an even greater emphasis on real-time as a key functionality for analytics tools. According to Mark, this is because businesses are realizing more that the goal is not to control the customer but to help them along their journey. To do this, they need to understand and see how customers are behaving in real-time.

The pandemic didn’t cause this need to understand customers, but it did throw the need to adapt in real-time into sharp relief. While people want to return to some version of normal, behavior patterns have changed. Another measurable impact has been on perceptions of stability. Understanding this, and other emotional and risk-assessing behaviors can let brands look at consumers differently.

In the webinar itself, Rusty Warner shares a powerful framework for assessing the ways consumer behavior will change. These changes represent business challenges, but also significant opportunities.

New Opportunities For Real-Time Interaction Management

With these new opportunities, the goal is to anticipate customers’ needs for an optimal digital experience by being proactive. This approach offers a chance to deliver personalized interactions at just the right moment in order to increase the impact of each communication or touchpoint. But how can brands do this? They must invest in their technology ecosystem.

Often businesses have the data and technology to deliver a great experience but don’t have a way to coordinate between these systems. Rusty Warner explains that you must invest in managing moments, context, and cross-channel behavior to get the most out of journey investments.

Why Real-Time is Critical For Journey Success

Customers expect quick results from their actions. If they submit a request or put an item in their cart, they expect immediate or fast confirmation of their behavior. That is why real-time journey management cannot be owned by a single team within the business. According to Rusty, this is because “customers aren’t interested in your internal structure.” Thinking about your customer journey from a customer’s perspective instead of the perspective of individual teams within your business. This lets you see the big picture and deliver a better experience for each customer.

Acting in real-time is so essential because the customer doesn’t understand why they have to wait. If you have a workflow that can take days to resolve because of manual processes involved, that represents an obstacle between the customer and their objective. In a competitive market, barriers to customers achieving their goals can be reason enough for them to defect. Real-time interaction management is to automate what a movie is to a static image. By acting quickly and ensuring each interaction is contextually relevant, brands can make the experience seamless. But how can you act in real-time when the data is complex or incomplete? Often, the answer lies in properly applied AI and machine learning.

The Role of AI in Real-Time Journeys

Sorting through when AI is useful and when it can hinder the customer experience is a key part of understanding journey management and real-time in particular.AI is a powerful asset for the customer journey, but using it in the right place can make all the difference. For many businesses, it is tempting to put every experience and piece of automation on an AI tool. The problem with this approach is that AI and machine learning work through iteration. Meanwhile, marketers and cx leaders already know the right thing to do most of the time. This is ideal when a high-stakes problem has a relatively easy resolution. It isn’t the right time to test and learn when a human touch is needed.

So when should you use AI? When you don’t already know the next best action, or when it is necessary to differentiate between behaviors quickly. AI can be ideal when cutting through the ambiguity that other automation tools cannot. Sentiment analysis is one such area. If a customer has tweeted about how their specific microwave has suffered an issue, AI may be able to determine that the sentiment is not positive, and alert customer support rather than starting up a marketing campaign to sell the customer microwaves. By sorting customers according to sentiment, the next phase of automation can help them accomplish their goals more easily. This increases overall satisfaction and helps build the relationship between customer and brand.

Only Scratching the Surface Of Real-Time Journey Excellence

We are only at the beginning of the move towards digital experience and real-time journeys. The global pandemic may have hastened adoption in many sectors, but this change has been coming for a long time. Today, business leaders need to think about the real-time experience they deliver to their customers.

Are you interested in learning more about the real value that can come from real-time journey management? Check out the full-length on-demand webinar today for even more insight and information.