Customer journey orchestration

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Researched by
GrowthLoop Editorial Team
verified by
David Joosten

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer journey orchestration (CJO) is a real-time process that coordinates a customer's experience from initial interaction to post-purchase.
  • CJO is part of an omnichannel marketing strategy, focusing on individual customers as they navigate the customer journey.
  • Implementing a CJO platform helps cross-team communication, provides more complete customer data, identifies customer pain points, and improves customer lifetime value.

Table of Contents

What is customer journey orchestration?

Customer journey orchestration (CJO) is the process of coordinating a customer’s experience in real-time, and driving the customer’s individualized experiences from their first interaction with your brand through purchase and lifetime support.

Real-time customer journey orchestration is typically done with CJO software, which uses real-time data about the customer’s journey to anticipate their needs and provide a seamless, personalized experience.

CJO is part of an omnichannel marketing strategy, which allows organizations to provide a similar experience for customers across multiple “channels”, including in-store, desktop and mobile websites, customer support chatbots, social media, email, or digital marketplaces. Any of these interactions may appear in the “customer journey” that CJO tools help orchestrate.

Customer journey orchestration example

Say you’re an arts organization trying to boost ticket sales through Facebook ads. In this scenario, the first time a customer interacts with your brand could be a Facebook ad. They click through to your website and your journey orchestration engine has the website display a code for 10% off a ticket to a showcase event. The CJO platform’s algorithms identified the code popup as an interaction with a high chance of making the ticket sale, based on data about other users who clicked that ad.

If the customer gets tickets, or even if they don’t, the CJO tool continues to work with them. It may determine that purchasing customers tend to sign up for your email newsletter a few days after attending the event. For people who don’t buy anything on day one, the data could show that the best time to try and re-engage them is two days before the showcase by sending a reminder about your event.

Customer journey vs. customer journey orchestration

A customer journey describes the flow that a customer takes from their first interaction through all the other touchpoints with your company. An organization may have different kinds of customer journeys, such as:

  • A customer who shops in a physical store before ultimately making a purchase on your website
  • A customer who discovers your product through an online ad before placing a pickup order from a local shop.
  • A customer who orders online only.

The customer journey is a holistic view of each of these customer experiences.

Customer journey orchestration is a process, usually enabled by a CJO engine or platform that uses the organization’s customer analytics to identify ways to build and enhance key customer touchpoints in real-time. While it works as part of the omnichannel customer journey, CJO tools focus on individual customers as they move through the customer journey.

Customer journey orchestration vs. customer journey management

Customer journey management is a broader term that refers to how multiple customer journey types are managed within an organization’s overall marketing strategy. Customer journey orchestration is an aspect of customer journey management that is specifically focused on providing real-time engagement for individual customers as they take the steps on their customer journey.

Customer journey management also includes researching, measuring, and optimizing these customer journeys, and works from a more segment-based approach. Rather than looking at what individual customers need as they move through the marketing touchpoints, customer journey management takes a broader perspective on how customer journeys are defined and mapped, and where customers begin their journeys.

What is a customer journey map?

The customer journey map is a visual diagram, often a flowchart, that showcases the full lifecycle of a potential customer’s path from learning about a company to becoming and remaining a customer. An organization may have multiple customer journeys, and a map for each. Creating maps is usually part of customer journey management, while CJO is an active process that uses your organization’s analytics, data, and experience to guide the customer’s journey in real-time.

A customer’s first interaction with your brand may be a social media ad, which is the starting point on their customer journey map. The map then charts all of that user’s interactions across each customer journey stage, often with branching points for choices they could make. For example:

  • A branch on the map may describe the customer deciding whether to make a purchase.
  • If they buy, their journey may include an email invitation to a mailing list.
  • If they don’t buy, the next step in their journey could be an individual discount code by email.
  • The map also includes post-purchase interactions, such as customer support or contract renewal.

This map helps the organization understand what customers need at various points on their journey. If the data shows that many customers drop off the customer journey at a certain touchpoint, or customers provide feedback about an email campaign, that data can provide you with key places to start refining the customer journey.

How customer journey orchestration works

The customer journey orchestration platform compiles data and presents personalized experiences for customers, then uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to enhance or replace manual marketing processes, such as A/B testing and batch data processing. The CJO tool can pull data in from a customer data platform (CDP) for processing, or use a composable CDP to use data stored in your data cloud.

These algorithms compare customer behavior patterns from successful interactions with unsuccessful ones in real-time, which allows the CJO engine to serve relevant content to customers faster than a marketing team could program manually. The platform then identifies customers at each stage of their customer journey, and tries to provide the most successful content, based on what has worked with similar customers at the same stage of the customer journey, and what similar customers seem to like.

Why is customer journey orchestration important?

Many customer journeys are not complete after the customer makes a purchase. While journey orchestration provides a way for marketing teams to attract customers with personalized campaigns, one of its key strengths is the ability to support ongoing customer engagement. Marketing and customer success (CS) teams don’t always interact with each other, which can lead to siloed experiences for the customer. With coordinated journey orchestration (often through a CJO platform) CS teams stay informed about marketing campaigns. That means customers reaching out for support are getting a more integrated experience.

How do marketers use journey orchestration?

A customer journey includes multiple points where a customer interacts with marketing assets. Journey orchestration uses real-time events and customer data to present those assets at key interaction points and on the customer's preferred channels. This allows marketers to optimize marketing strategies based on the results of those individual experiences.

For example, a SaaS marketer creates a graphic detailing the benefits of their service and a promo code campaign offering a discount on the user’s first month. The journey orchestration tool tracks customer journeys that include the graphic and identifies that it increases signups when presented before the promo code (as opposed to after). Using that data, the CJO platform sends future prospects the graphic first and emails them the discount code three hours later.

Benefits of customer journey orchestration

Implementing a customer journey orchestration platform is not an easy task, but there are multiple benefits not just for your marketing teams, but for the organization as a whole.

  • Increased cross-team communication - Customer experience can suffer when teams work in data silos and don’t share customer information. For example, a customer reaches out to their sales associate for help on a problem, who passes them to the CS team without sending information about the customer relationship. That can force the customer to repeat information, which leads to frustration. A CJO tool can help close customer service gaps by fostering more cohesive communication and sharing information across teams.
  • More complete customer data - Because CJO engines use data gleaned from all channels, including social media, chat programs, and web and mobile websites, these tools can create strong customer profiles. These profiles provide insightful data for teams to improve campaign performance and messaging decisions, providing the customer with a more personalized experience and stronger brand affinity.
  • Identifying customer pain points - Customers don’t always tell you what they don’t like about your messaging or website’s functionality. The data from a CJO tool can provide you with trends that show which parts of the customer journey lose customers. If you see high engagement with a LinkedIn post, but low engagement with the website, it may indicate disjointed messaging or an intimidating web form with a lot of fields.
  • Better customer lifetime value (CLTV) - Ensuring that customers have the most relevant information for them can lead to empowered customers and customer loyalty. Empowered customers who feel loyal, heard, and have relevant information can make better decisions about purchases they want to make, and may have a positive impact on their overall CLTV. For example, if a customer gets excellent technical support for a broken cell phone, then gets an email about the newer device, may start thinking about upgrading.

How can my team get started with customer journey orchestration?

Customer journey orchestration has benefits that touch not just the marketing teams, but also the sales, customer service, development, and executive teams. With that in mind, implementing customer journey orchestration will require cross-team coordination.

Remember: Throughout CJO implementation, some processes may change. While you want to have a clear plan before implementation, it’s important to remain flexible and make adjustments as you learn more about your internal CJO processes and tools.

Get executive buy-in

The customer-centric positioning of CJO may be harder to implement without support from the top. Someone in your C-suite should be informed about the progress of rolling out a far-reaching tool like a CJO engine. Getting executive team buy-in on board also signals the company’s investment in the technology, which can help remove obstacles further down the road.

Define the customer journey maps

Even if you already have customer journeys defined, you will want to record and revise those to ensure they are up-to-date. Involving the sales and customer service teams in the customer journey mapping process can help create a clear picture of their interactions with customers. They will have a helpful perspective on what pieces you can automate, which ones require a personal touch, and what some of the key customer pain points are.

Build marketing team collaborations

The collaborative nature of CJO processes means that your teams will need clear definitions of who provides what elements of each customer interaction. Determine who is responsible for which creative assets and customer interactions, getting as detailed as possible.

Get the data and technology teams ready

A CJO engine requires data and technology, which means involving your data and engineering staff early. The data team can provide a picture of the data you already have to help the tool ramp up faster. Depending on the journey orchestration tool you use, this may mean moving your data to a central cloud-based data warehouse. The engineering team can work with the vendor on making sure your technology stack is up-to-date and ready for the tool. You will all need to work together to ensure that the additional work of maintaining and processing the data does not overload those teams.

Unify your brand voice

Your marketers may already have a clear picture of how your organization presents itself, and what they want it to sound like to customers. However, some teams you work with may not. Create and share well-defined style guides, brand messaging cheat sheets, and other creative assets with the customer service, data, engineering, and sales teams. This can ensure that messages from different points in the customer journey sound consistent, even while providing personalized experiences.

Address CJO challenges

Adding a CJO solution to your organization will not improve the marketing program overnight. In addition to the training and experience that your teams will need to succeed, here are some key steps you can take to address potential challenges and minimize technical delivery issues:

  • Define clear goals for each department: Customer journey orchestration is a process that relies on cross-team collaboration. Any teams that will interact with the tools will need to set clearly defined goals for the tool. This will likely require holding meetings with those teams to get input and buy-in, and may also require process maps and conversations with vendors to ensure these goals are achievable.
  • Set starting points for the customer journey: Because the customer journey map is central to CJO, it is critical to understand where those journeys begin. They don’t begin or end with a customer’s first purchase, and failing to correctly identify those first interactions could mean missed opportunities. However, it may be best to identify some starting points may be best identified with data from the CJO engine, so create plans to periodically update customer journeys.
  • Cover the costs: A third-party tool will cost money, but you may also need equipment to host it, training for any staff that will use it, and may need to cover other platform fees with the vendor. Ask your vendors about these potential costs before you sign anything.
  • Consider the organizational structure: A CJO process is customer-centric, and your organization may not be structured in the best way to take advantage of what a CJO tool can do. Take some time interviewing teams to learn about where the silos are, and talk with your executive team about any changes that need to be mademad. Build a roll-out plan that includes time for staff to ramp up, for data collection, and for your teams to make necessary adjustments.

Research customer journey orchestration tools

CJO engines can operate as self-contained platforms, or they can integrate with existing customer relationship management (CRM) or composable customer data platform (CDP) tools. In some cases, the composable CDP may provide built-in journey orchestration tools.

Integrating your customer journey orchestration tools with existing sources of first-party data (data your organization gathers from customer interactions with your assets) allows you to use tools and data you already have for CJO.

Ask your vendor about integration options if you already have a CRM or CDP solution. However, using a CJO tool with a built-in CDP solution can reduce costs by requiring only one tool instead of multiple tools. There are many vendors that sell CJO tools, including:

  • 6Sense
  • Alterian
  • Demandbase
  • Engage Hub
  • Genesys
  • Hubspot
  • Insider
  • Madison Logic
  • Medallia
  • Microsoft
  • Pointillist
  • Qualtrics
  • Salesforce
  • Thunderhead
  • Trendemon
Published On:
November 28, 2023
Updated On:
February 1, 2024
Read Time:
5 min
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