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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Point of No Return: To Reduce Churn, Utilize Data at Each Step of the Customer Journey

By Dan Ryan

Over the years, customer personas, developed by market research firms, have become a mainstay in most marketing departments. The comings and goings of “18-24-year-old city dwellers” or “65-and-older Tik Tok users” have informed where to focus marketing efforts, what verbiage will resonate across channels and how your brand will be perceived. Because the experiences you offer these customers hold a direct impact on your company’s bottom line, there’s danger in relying solely on these generalized dossiers. 

Thought: Point of No Return: To Reduce Churn, Utilize Data at Each Step of the Customer Journey
Point of No Return: To Reduce Churn, Utilize Data at Each Step of the Customer JourneyDan Ryan
Thought: Point of No Return: To Reduce Churn, Utilize Data at Each Step of the Customer Journey

While grouping customers together into personas and segments enables one-to-many messaging and experiences at scale, individuals will always interact with brands across the touchpoints and mediums that resonate with their personal needs when and how it makes the most sense. This can lead to some unpredictable behavior: According to Google Research, 98% of Americans switch between devices on the same day, and SDL found that 90% of customers expect a seamless customer experience across channels and devices. The reality is that no journey is linear, and no two are the same.

The solution lies in responsibly tracking and leveraging customer data to nurture positive, purposeful experiences that are both proactive and reactive—the former incentivizing and encouraging certain behaviors, the latter prone to change on a dime. Optimizing the customer experience and value they receive will ultimately yield ROI in more than one way: Positive experiences will result in repeat business and word of mouth, and they will prevent a singular negative experience from derailing a full journey. 

When striving to deliver one-on-one experiences, it’s imperative to hold a holistic understanding of your customers, their attributes and their recent behaviors. As a result, Rightpoint follows a quantitative and qualitative approach to understanding customer journeys, sentiment and the trigger points across channels and time with the potential to make or break an experience. We then design experience strategies that intercept and mitigate moments of risk or amplify moments of truth.

Here, we illustrate three journeys and how to deliver interventions and optimizations across touch points.

Example #1: Delaying the Inevitable

Summary: Katie is browsing Facebook and sees an ad for an “ath-leisure” brand she’s never purchased from before. Her experience on the brand’s website meets expectations, but during delivery, she encounters significant shipping delays. After reaching out to customer service three times without any indication of when the package will arrive, the package shows up, but her experience is already soured. Despite the product itself meeting expectations, she decides not to shop with this brand again.

A situation like this could have been mitigated if the company provided accurate and proactive shipping notifications—or, if that investment is absent, the customer service agents were empowered to look up tracking details or offer an incentive as goodwill for the inconvenience. 

At Rightpoint, we start by understanding the targeted journey and then apply experience design, research and analytics to identify risks and weak spots in the experience. We define data-powered triggered messaging to build into the e-commerce experience and explore opportunities to enhance service levels in a manner that is competitive and cost effective.

Recognizing that these proactive measures won’t eliminate all risk of a poor experience, we introduce retention strategies to further build loyalty and ensure the Katies of the world think highly of your brand. What’s more, if predictive models suggest Katie as a first-time customer has high propensity to achieve top-tier status in lifetime value, we recommend proactive promotions targeted at guaranteeing Katie’s repeat business.  

How this impacts ROI: According to PwC, nearly one in three customers (32%) indicated that they would be willing to abandon a brand they love after a single bad experience, with this number rising to 59% in the USA after multiple bad experiences. Each lost customer represents a one-two punch: the opportunity cost of growing lifetime value and the cost to acquire a replacement. One approach is to model these scenarios in the hopes of uncovering how much to invest in engagement, retention and service strategies. 

Example #2: Following Orders

Summary: John is browsing Google Shopping one day and sees a food processor on sale at a regional retailer. He decides to swing by that store on his Saturday errands route, but once there, he learns the product is out of stock. After looking for a store associate to assist, John pauses in the aisle to pull up the retailer’s website to purchase online. Much to his disappointment, he sees it’s out of stock there as well. At this point, John wants the product but has given up on the regional retailer and turns to a national big-box .com with 2-day shipping despite the slightly higher price. 

While out-of-stock is a common challenge for retailers with limited inventory, customers tend to recognize that risk and still patron brick-and-mortar businesses for the localized feel and to support businesses that employ people in their community. To that end, John may have waited for the item to be back in stock had he encountered an associate at any point from walking into the store to searching one out actively. Alternatively, had the e-commerce site provided an “estimated in stock” date, or an option to sign up for alerts, he may have waited before jumping to another retailer. 

We at Rightpoint have many regional clients who are actively competing against the scale of their national competitors. Our approach includes competitive and market research to understand what drives customers to physical locations and their expectations, as well as what core differentiators drive affinity for those businesses over their competitors. 

From there, we identify opportunities within store associate handling, policies and procedures to ensure displaced customers have their needs met. Most often it’s not a matter of the sales associate not wanting to help; rather, they don’t have the tools they need easily accessible, such as inventory lookups, ability to waive shipping charges, etc. As part of omni-channel experience design, we also assess how your in-store and online platforms share information with one another, and how they can more effectively sync up to offer a seamless experience that customers will want to repeat. 

How This Impacts ROI: It costs five times as much to acquire a customer as it does to retain an existing customer, according to Ipsos. If your organization is shedding existing customers, it’s not only missing out on potential revenue—it’s also losing money.

Example #3: Feasting on Famine

Summary: Sally visits the website of a new meal kit delivery company, excited to try its healthy offerings. She builds her cart and then encounters a technical issue at checkout, blocking her ability to make the purchase. She tries to create an account at this step in the journey so that her cart will appear when she accesses the website from her laptop, but backing out of the purchase path to create the account deletes her order. Undeterred, she goes to the website to rebuild her cart but quickly realizes a lot of the functionality – such as setting dietary preferences – doesn’t exist on the website to the degree they did on the mobile app. She abandons altogether. 

This experience could have been positive despite the technical glitch at check-out if there was a more seamless cross-channel experience. First, had she been able to create an account at any point in the purchase path, she wouldn’t have lost her order. Further, had similar functionality existed on the website, Sally could have received the same experience regardless of her preferred device. If these were true, Sally would have completed the transaction, cooked her meal and posted photos with a positive review. 

Consumer expectations for flawless transition across digital channels is at an all-time high and continuing to increase. Sally remained committed to placing an order, but unless the product or service is essential, most customers aren’t willing to try to troubleshoot more than once or attempt a 3rd channel (e.g., contacting customer service) to place an order.

Rightpoint’s heritage is in designing and building intuitive, inspiring and error-free digital experiences across devices and platforms. We also consider the eco-system around the platform that is equally important to delivering a positive customer experience: How are you driving consumers to these experiences? How is service integrated whether self-service, assisted or full service? What do employees need to be equipped with to troubleshoot issues and remediate negative experiences? For example, training social media managers in how to refer customers to support reps or troubleshoot simple problems themselves. By exploring the total experience, Rightpoint designs and delivers intuitive, impactful journeys that flex to how the customer desires to interact.

How This Impacts ROI: According to Forbes, customers who rate their experiences with a business as ten-out-of-ten spend 140% more compared to customers who rated their experiences as a three or lower. Achieving a 10 out of 10 requires a holistic lens to customer experience across digital, marketing, service and operations. It also requires establishing a measurement plan to understand the moments of truth across a customer’s journey and attribute positive and negative experiences to transaction size, frequency and lifetime value. 


Customer interactions aren’t necessarily linear, which means that data must be intelligently collected and synthesized to figure out all of the permutations of what’s going on, and how behavioral insights correlate to customer experience and revenue. Rightpoint adopts a data-driven approach to experience design and evolution that homes in on targeted data points and arranges them in a taxonomy that tracks with your desired outcomes. By establishing a strategy for data and insights, you collect the right data, not simply more of it, and convert it to both proactive and reaction activations and interventions.