LONDON: The growing number of touchpoints is a significant obstacle in the way of companies and brands fully understanding the customer journey according to new research.

Market researcher Econsultancy, in association with call analytics service provider ResponseTap, polled almost 2,000 marketers and ecommerce professionals around the world for its report, Understanding the Customer Journey: More Than Just Online.

This found over than one third (35%) saw the complexity and number of touchpoints across the digital and physical worlds as the major barrier to their attempts to join up the customer journey.

Just 12% of companies rated themselves as being 'advanced' at understanding the customer journey, compared to 51% who said they were 'intermediate' and 32% who classed themselves as 'beginner'. A further 6% described their understanding as 'non-existent'.

Only a few were using a variety of methods for joining up online and offline customer journeys, including loyalty schemes and point-of-sale data collection. And less than half of companies with call centres were using telephone call tracking as a way of connecting online and offline.

Econsultancy also reported that there had been little improvement in the integration of channels within organisations since a Multichannel Customer Experience survey it had carried out four years ago: 38% of responding companies said the "customer journey is understood but with little management across touchpoints".

Bhavesh Vaghela, ResponseTap CMO, suggested this lack of progress might be due to marketers being overly focused on digital to the detriment of more traditional channels.

Indeed, almost half of responding companies (47%) said the digital part of the business was driving customer journey initiatives, twice the proportion of companies citing 'traditional marketing or other offline parts of the business' (23%).

Among offline channels, call centres were most frequently used, by 66% of responding companies, although only 28% were using them to map website visitors and customers who are engaging both online and offline.

"It is becoming essential to make the link between all the businesses' activities," Vagehela declared. "It's now, or never."

Data sourced from Econsultancy; additional content by Warc staff