Learning from Ten Billion Customer Journey Data Points

CSG recently released their 2022 State of the Customer Journey Report and we’ve covered it, we’ve published it, we’ve pulled out data points from it all along the way because well, it’s just really interesting. And it informs what so many of our readers and viewers live and breathe every day. We had a chance to speak with Mark Smith who is VP of Digital Engagement Solutions at CSG to bring a little context to the report – what it is, where it comes from. And beyond that, the utility of those data points because it really is more than just data points.

(Complete Transcript Below)

 


 

TheCustomer

So, can you tell us about maybe, first of all, what went into this report? Because, and if you’ll allow me to poorly editorialize just for a moment … We see a lot of data, a lot of reporting out there, a lot of research that’s based on fairly small universes. This is not that!

 

Mark Smith

Yeah, so with that, thank you. Thank you for saying that, Mike. So yeah, this report is an analysis of very real journey data from all of the customer journeys that CSG runs for our clients. We actually have been running this report – and you know, this goes back seven years – back to the days of Kitewheel where I came from. We got acquired by CSG last year, so we’ve now got seven years’ worth of data on the way businesses are using journeys. Real tracking of interactions with customers, which channels the customers use, what applications the businesses are solving with a with a customer journey approach. And so, what we do each year is take all of the data from our global set of cloud servers that are actually running these journeys for our clients, and we aggregate it up. So, it’s totally anonymized obviously, but we aggregate it up by vertical industry. So, financial services, telco, retail, healthcare – there are big verticals. We aggregate it by channel; so which channels are being used to communicate with customers. And service customers in that journey. We aggregate it up by use case so, what are the businesses doing? What are they / how are they trying to help the customer with the journey? And then analyze that data.

And we’re looking at growth patterns. We’re looking at changes in the market, which channels are becoming more popular, which use cases are becoming more popular? And so it’s very real data. There’s like well over 10 billion customer interactions.

 

TheCustomer

I wouldn’t mind just letting that statistic hang in the air for a minute. Because that in itself, I think, separates this report from almost everything else that we see out there.

 

Mark Smith

Yeah, no thank you for saying that. Again, it’s true – there’s a huge amount of data going into this right across our customer base so it’s a lens. I mean it’s obviously our data so it’s specific to the customers we’ve got and how we’re helping them. So, it’s not a full market view in terms of everybody else’s customer journeys that may be being run. But it’s our view. But it’s really interesting to see the way it’s changing and to see in particular, the kind of year-on year trends. Because it gives a very real insight into the market – what’s happening, what companies are doing in terms of developing new ways of communicating with their customers.

 

TheCustomer

One point of note here. If I read this correctly, SMS notification volume was up over a thousand percent year over year and i think there are a couple of surprising things about that. But I’m waiting for you to tell me whether I’m interpreting this correctly or not. One is that’s an astonishing number that’s just huge but we’re talking about year over year. So, think about what that means. That the data was collected between 2020 and 21 correct?

 

Mark Smith

That’s right.

 

TheCustomer

Yeah, these are the 2021 numbers compared to the 2020 numbers the 2020 numbers. I think what’s really interesting about that is the digital transformation that customers’ digital expectations were well underway when the pandemic hit, but that was accelerated to the Nth degree when lockdown happened. We were all forced to communicate and purchase and interact digitally. So, you expected a bump there. You expected that kind of number for 2020 would be a big one. But if you’re looking at a year over year of 2021 over 20 and you’re still getting a thousand percent increase year over year, that’s astonishing!

 

Mark Smith

So, there’s some part of that is down to CSG. Some part of that is down to the transition that we’ve been through from, if you like, previously being just kitewheel to now being CSG. So, there’s certainly a shift in the nature of our customers, and CSG has given has propelled us into a whole new market within the communication service provider space, which is big, strong market for CSG historically. So, we’ve seen a whole set of new clients in that area – so that’s certainly part of this. But I think the other thing that we’ve seen changing from 2020 to 2021 is a lot of people got a big shock in 2020 and had to learn new ways and new approaches and develop new approaches. And 2021 saw them really getting implemented and really starting to scale up based on what they saw, once they got over the literal shock of the world changing and dived into. So, what are we going to do about it? What are we going to develop? And 2021 was when we saw that really happening.

 

TheCustomer

If we can follow the crystal ball a little bit, there is a certain maturity to a lot of companies now and their expectations are how they need to deal with the customer. Do you think that when we have this conversation next year, we’ll still see a thousand percent year over year?

 

Mark Smith

No, it’s one of those high growth rates. It’s not going to be sustainable at that level of growth but I kind of know already it’s going to be …

You know what?  Maybe just some of the some of the client engagements we’ve got on the go at the moment, are talking about such volumes of new programs – maybe it gets to that level!  It’s hard to sustain that kind of hyper-growth percentage-wise over multiple years but we kind of already know it’s going to be. It’s going to be significant growth again this year just from the things we already have underway a couple of months into the year.

 

TheCustomer

So, before this became an official conversation, you and I were talking a bit off the record, about some of the other companies that operate in the space and some of the differences in what it takes to implement their technologies versus how CSG is has kind of built your whole catalog. I think even if you’re not familiar with CSG it takes 30 seconds on the website to understand it’s a big company with a lot of capabilities, servicing a lot of different sectors. But talk a little bit about what it might take if there’s a company out there that watching this or reading this article and they’re saying you know, these are these are concepts that we’ve been talking about but it’s time to do something about them. What’s the technological overhead for engaging with CSG and some of these kinds of tools? What’s involved? We don’t have to get too deep in the weeds but you probably have a decent handle on that.

 

Mark Smith

Yeah, so we have a 90-day quick start program. What CSG is specializing in, is working with the existing infrastructure to make it smarter. And so we happily plug into our businesses existing web / digital / communication channels – their backend systems – to allow them to work together in a smarter way that is focused on the customer.

 

TheCustomer

Well Mark, thank you for this – I always left at the end of these conversations feeling like there’s another, you know, two hours’ worth of stuff we could cover but I’ll be more kind to our schedules than that. So, for now, thank you – Thank you again and really looking forward to the next time we get to do this.

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