Customer journey orchestration

Customer journey orchestration

Quick definition

Customer journey orchestration is the coordination of customer experiences in real time to encourage customers to continue to engage with a company.

Key takeaways

Customer journey orchestration takes a real-time, individual approach to engaging with customers, while customer journey management looks at customer segments.

Journey orchestration engines integrate with delivery systems and leverage data sources to map out next actions to successfully interact with customers.

To get the most out of journey orchestration, companies should start small and carefully test to make sure their efforts are having a positive effect.

Alex Dal Canto joined Adobe in 2013 through the Neolane acquisition, where he was part of the Strategic Alliances group. As a product marketing manager for Adobe Campaign, Alex is responsible for bringing new releases to market as well as promoting new features and creating mobile strategy. He led the go-to-market process for Adobe Journey Orchestration in the year before its release.

What is the difference between customer journey orchestration and customer journey management?

What is a journey map?

What tools do you need for customer journey orchestration?

How does customer journey orchestration fit into a larger business strategy?

How can companies make sure their investment in journey orchestration is effective and profitable?

What problems do companies run into?

Q: What is the difference between customer journey orchestration and customer journey management?

A: When a customer browses a brand's website or engages with them through their mobile app or even their physical store, those are all indicators that a company can capture in real time and then use to make decisions about how to engage the customer. Customer journey orchestration involves taking that information and then taking steps to make sure that the customer’s experience with the company is relevant. There is no concept of segments; you're engaging with a customer as an individual because they’ve indicated that it's time to engage with them in that moment. Customer journey management, on the other hand, is not necessarily real time or unitary — it looks at how groups of customers and audience members in a specific segment might act.

Q: What is a journey map?

A: A journey map is the highest level starting point for anybody trying to achieve their customer journey goals. It generally maps out the flow in which a company thinks a customer will engage with their brand, and plans out all the different points or variations that a customer could take. But it could be more high level — focused on the sales cycle stage or funnel stage, for example, going from awareness through conversion to advocacy and so on. When we talk about journey mapping, we are referring specifically to the map itself without any kind of orchestration or actual engagement happening. Companies use journey maps to learn more about a customer and to plan out next steps.

Q: What tools do you need for customer journey orchestration?

A: The first thing you need is a journey orchestration “engine.” These are typically independent systems that integrate with delivery solutions, such as email delivery systems. They don’t actually send an email or push a message themselves, but they can work with any end-delivery system a company might already be using. The engine can leverage any data source that the company might use to make an informed decision. For example, Adobe’s journey orchestration engine, called Journey Orchestration, leverages Adobe Experience Platform as its data source.

Other journey orchestration engines include Thunderhead, Kitewheel, Pointillist, and Salesforce’s Interaction Studios. The end goal for each of these platforms is generally the same, but they do have different features to help companies with specific needs. Some products focus on doing journey orchestration on a high level — Thunderhead or Interaction Studio, for example, are more focused on the overall flow from stage to stage, flowing from general awareness through to consideration, conversion, advocacy, reviewing, and mapping from that high-level view out. Other solutions, including Adobe, take this one level further and get into granular points of engagement. With these engines, an event happens and, based on everything we know about this customer and the contacts, we (Adobe) will make a decision to engage with them by email or an SMS message, and maybe update a record somewhere in a database to actually orchestrate that experience.

At the end of the day, these are all platforms that have been built with openness in mind. They can all integrate and fit into a company’s ecosystem or stack of solutions quite nicely. When it comes to choosing one product over another, each engine does work slightly differently, but the main differences are in the price point, scale, and complementary products of each engine.

Q: How does customer journey orchestration fit into a larger business strategy?

A: Journey orchestration centers around the overall customer experience. There are certainly strong market use cases for journey orchestration, but it becomes even more powerful when you start to connect the marketing use cases with service-oriented use cases or operations-oriented use cases. So much so that we've started to see a lot of businesses create customer experience teams composed of marketing, product, and service personnel. Their main task is to put the customer at the center of everything that they're doing. By bringing in additional context, you can improve engagements with the customer.

Imagine a customer bought a computer. And for whatever reason, that computer doesn't work well and the customer has opened a service ticket. Typically, the marketing team would continue engaging that customer because they know that the customer just purchased a computer. The marketing team might want to offer some information, like tips and tricks or other products to go with the computer. And that's certainly a valid use case. But typically what happens is there's a disconnect within the organization. If the marketing team doesn’t know that the customer has opened a service ticket, and that the customer is not as enthused as a new customer should be, the follow-up information may not be welcome and the customer might be frustrated.

But because journey orchestration is so open and able to use any channel, it allows the marketing team to know that there's a service ticket open. They can engage the customer with a different message, or choose not to reach out until the issue has been resolved. It makes the overall experience a little bit more cohesive and a little bit more helpful versus advertising headphones when the audio jack doesn’t work.

From another perspective, if you have a digital-based business, like an app, you can engage people as they interact with the app and get them to use more and more of it. Part of that might be showing the customer how to use features as they try to click on them for the first time or promoting certain features that the customer might not have used yet because they're clicking around in one specific part of your app. Ultimately, you can conclude that the customer has reached a certain level of maturity because they've used a certain amount of your application, so maybe they're a good candidate for the premium or paid offering of that application. These are different use cases than the traditional technique of making a plan to send out so many emails or push notifications, but they are still powerful. Journey orchestration allows companies to connect the marketing use cases to a more holistic view.

Q: How can companies make sure their investment in journey orchestration is effective and profitable?

A: The biggest part of this is testing. Start small. Start with one journey that you might want to test, see what works, and then constantly monitor. Explore where customers are getting hung up and see if they’re completing the journey you created. Then tweak and modify that as you go. If you try to start with mapping out every single little niche and nuance of the overall customer experience that any single one of your clients might have with your brand, you're going to get into trouble pretty quickly. You're going to get lost. A tool like a journey orchestration engine will take what you think you know from the data and tell you more, which will help you further your efforts to achieve your goals. And you keep building on that as you go.

Q: What problems do companies run into?

A: Trying to do everything trips companies up. And a related problem is not having the buy-in from the respective team. Companies might not have the right org structure or KPIs to execute on a journey that involves different teams, like when you try to connect marketing and service use cases.

On a more technical level, journey orchestration engines do not execute deliveries. So they're not actually sending the emails or push notifications, they're relying on whatever other email service providers (ESPs) or mobile marketing automation solutions a company uses. You can overcome the delivery problem by making sure you have the right mix of solutions in place to actually fuel and deliver the experiences that you want to create. At the end of the day, if the systems that the journey orchestration engine is connecting to can't support the throughput required, then you're going to run into a roadblock.

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