Using journey analytics to manage
COVID-19 pandemic disruptions
Written by Ken Ong, Chief Technology Officer & Journey Data Expert, BryterCX
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The social and business disruptions caused by COVID-19 are inextricably intertwined, especially for service-based businesses. How businesses act to mitigate the disruptions to people’s lives, while they themselves are being disrupted, will shape their customer relationships in the post-pandemic era.
Different countries around the world have adopted different mitigation strategies to the pandemic, based on their economies, geographies, and cultures. The financial disruptions on consumers will be equally diverse. Workers of the gig economy face an immediate cash crisis, mid-career workers risk losing their homes and other assets, retirement–aged workers may find their plans vanished. Now more than ever, businesses need to understand consumers’ urgent changing needs and respond promptly. Customer journey analytics gives businesses visibility into customer engagement across channels and enables them to measure how changes to their processes are meeting customers’ changing needs.
You Can’t Fight What You Can’t See
Some leaders have called this “a war with an invisible enemy.” Established military doctrine frames war as action on three broad levels: tactical, operational and strategic. Government and business leaders need to respond tactically, operationally and strategically. Businesses need tactical responses to short-term disruptions while making sustainable operational improvements to accommodate long-lasting changes in customer needs, both in a coherent strategic context.
Countries which have done limited testing are blind to the level of infection and the spread of the virus. In contrast, aggressive testing in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea made the presence of the virus “visible” and enabled quick isolation and contract tracing.
Similarly, businesses need data to see what’s going on and to guide their responses. As retail locations close, customers are driven to other channels for support. Your business needs data to see the customer traffic changes and to monitor how your teams are coping with the changing loads. As John Doerr titled his book, businesses need to “measure what matters.” If you run a business, you need to know which activities are increasing or decreasing, how your teams are responding to the changes and the resulting effect on customer experiences. This is why analytics is vitally important to businesses. If you have measurements, use them. If you don’t, you need to start measuring.
Make Decisive and Deliberate Tactical Adjustments
Your business needs to quickly adapt to the increased customer support load. This can be challenging given the inelastic nature of resources, especially when your own operations are being disrupted. You need to adopt mitigation strategies to manage the spikes in support load. For example, airlines have implemented prioritized callbacks so customers are not kept waiting endlessly. Other tactical strategies include prominent announcements on websites to inform customers of their options and the channels better equipped to support them.
Having the analytical data to see the backlogs and trends is essential to containment and mitigation. If you don’t have the data or the expertise, consider bringing in domain experts to help you quickly instrument your processes, analyze the data and provide recommendations.
Develop a Sustainable Operational Plan
Tactical responses are necessary to “flatten the curve” and to buy time to implement sustainable solutions to serve changing customer needs. To deliver effective improvements, businesses should start with customer needs and provide solutions which empower the customer and enable them to get resolution more quickly.
Customer journey analytics enables businesses to get visibility into customer needs and preferences by tracking customer intent and behavior across channels and interactions. Whereas traditional channel analytics focuses on visitor metrics within a single channel, such as channel adoption or service times, omni-channel customer journey analytics tracks customer journeys over a longer period across multiple channels, from the start of an activity until the customer succeeds (or gives up). This enables businesses to use customer intent and demographics to provide more customized responses to speed up resolution. For example, having visibility into customer channel hops and repeat support calls enable you to see which products and activities are driving the support calls, differences by customer demographics, and which agents are more effective at resolving them.
Insights into the customer needs and preferences also enable you to create more effective self-service solutions via more cost efficient channels – for example, enabling customers to pay bills using interactive voice response (IVR) systems instead of having to call a live agent. But this is more than moving customers from one channel to another. You have to anticipate the customer needs, build delightful self-services experiences, and measure their effectiveness. All these require a holistic view into customer journeys, beyond discrete interactions. Some changes in customer needs and preferences will continue long after the crisis is over; you should invest in solutions to retain customers better and minimize team fatigue.
Update Your Strategic Roadmap
COVID-19 will transform how governments and businesses operate forever. In his Times article on the crisis, the historian Yuval Noah Harari stated, “real protection comes from the sharing of reliable scientific information, and from global solidarity.”
It took a generation for customers to shift their preference from bank tellers to self-service ATMs. Crises force us to adopt and get comfortable with new ways of doing things. The human need for social interactions may limit the sustainability of social distancing, but transactional interactions are driven by necessity, convenience and habit more than human social needs. Users may adopt contactless and cashless payments initially to reduce contagion risk but they can quickly become the sine qua non of mobile financial transactions. The proliferation of new touchpoints will make it even more important for businesses to understand their customer journeys across all channels.
Big data enables businesses to see and even anticipate customers’ needs and wants. New modes of financial interactions will open the door for new entrants to disrupt incumbents. Business leaders who update their strategic plans to embrace a data-driven, customer-first perspective will thrive in the post-pandemic era.
About the Author
Ken Ong, Chief Technology Officer & Journey Data Expert, BryterCX
Ken Ong is CTO of BryterCX. He has extensive product and engineering leadership experience in analytics, including Engineering Director for Google Analytics, Senior Vice President for the Internet of Things Cloud at Salesforce, and Vice President for the Identity platform at Intuit. He was also co-founder and CEO of a banking software company.