Over the last 10-15 years there has been a steady increase in the use of customer journey mapping. The value of journey mapping as a diagnostic tool, used to develop insights on the customer experience, is now widely recognized.

Delivering a positive customer experience is key to inspiring future business and retaining high value customers. Customer journey mapping can play a key role in this. It’s a foundational methodology that helps companies organize and visualize the key interactions that their customers experience, and by engaging internal teams can help improve delivery of the intended experience.

It’s well known within the customer experience community that leveraging the benefits of journey maps from both a customer and an organizational perspective can create advantages over time. So why is it that so many organizations appear to use journey maps to conduct an initial diagnosis of the experience, but then six months later those maps are languishing in a drawer unused, with the organization continuing to manage change as it always has, without the outside-in view that journey mapping brings to support measurement, redesign, and operational delivery of the experience?

Maps don’t change anything!

The problem is often that organizations assume that the issues and insights that have been unearthed can be addressed as part of business as usual – that they don’t need to change anything fundamental, just address the issues that have been identified.

In our experience methodologies like journey mapping need to be nurtured by those leading customer experience change and brought into the operational mainstream if they are to be adopted widely across the organization. Here are the essential steps we recommend that our clients adopt when the initial experience diagnosis has been completed. These steps enable the customer experience leaders to engage the organization and to leverage the value of journey mapping as a key foundational component of a successful customer experience engagement program.

The first six months

The diagnosis is done, key issues and opportunities are identified – but don’t rush off to address all those quick wins just yet as you need to engage the organization (see outline of Quick Wins, Moments of Truth and Pain Points at the end of this article).

The three key actions to take are:

(i) Create governance – journey maps are too often owned by customer experience teams who are not central to the operations of a business, and specifically who are not part of the operational change management processes. The challenge is always the same – to build relationships between the customer experience teams and to demonstrate value to the actual change management owners, so that journey mapping becomes a tool and a customer lens which is an integral part of what they do. Journey mapping has to be integrated with the change management process and kept at the center of governance.

(ii) Put key customer measures in place – the impact of early changes to the experience need to be measured. Identify 8-10 important touchpoints (typically the moments of truth) at which to establish the key operational metrics that will guide the internal teams on the intended experience. Apply external voice of customer metrics at two or three points in the journey (more than that will swamp the internal teams) and begin to see how changes in the internal metrics results begin to correlate with changed customer attitudes and then behaviors. This will be very valuable input when creating a ‘line of sight’ between the experience and business outcomes later on. Bring all these measures into a customer dashboard.

(iii) Apply the brand – a statement of the intended experience will have been developed in the early work. The action now is to apply this to the quick wins that will be tackled in the first six months. Take each touchpoint impacted by the quick wins, and use the design principles outlined in the statement of intent to create the new experience. In this way the brand comes alive at every point where the experience is being changed. Quick wins are an obvious place to start, but also take a look at the moments of truth – are there obvious ways that the brand-aligned experience design principles can be simply and quickly brought to life at these touch points?

Progress is being made – build on the early foundations in months 7-12

Visualize the journey – bring the journey alive for the organization through visual images of the maps so they can see where their function contributes. Use large posters of the journey map on walls, in reception and meeting rooms, on the intranet, in dedicated customer rooms etc. so colleagues get an understanding of the intended experience. Use the maps in team meetings to discuss relevant touchpoints and stages of the journey to identify what has worked well, and where there is scope for improvement. The map can be particularly helpful in gaining cross-functional agreement and alignment on customer issues and priorities. Create maps with appropriate levels of detail for each audience – flexible mapping software will allow you to do this.

Training the intended experience – the maps can now be used to train new recruits to the organization, or those changing roles, in what the intended overall experience is, and how their role contributes to it. A detailed training guide should be available for every key part of the journey and available for all customer-facing teams. As the experience and the journey maps change and are refreshed, so do the training guides so that all teams are up to speed on their role in delivering the intended experience.

Demonstrate leadership – the commitment and involvement of leaders is key to the success of a CX program, so leaders need to be walking the talk, communicating with their reports on customer issues and customer measures, and being involved with customers themselves. The journey map is an important visual prop that provides the framework for effective leadership communications and dialogue with customers.

Keeping on track – beyond 12 months

By now the customer experience program and journey mapping should be more familiar to everyone in the organization, but there are two last essentials that need to be addressed.

Connect the experience with business operations – it is now important to link the enablers of the experience back to the map, at a touchpoint level. This will allow the impact of changes in the experience on operations to be revealed, and vice versa. Software will be needed that provides a common reference model and links what happens at every point in the journey with the processes, data, infrastructure, and people enablers required to deliver the experience.

Set performance goals – the team and individuals now should have performance targets that relate to the part of the journey that they own, so performance measures for each key activity and touchpoint will be important. The organization itself should have an overall customer delight metric. Achievement against targets needs to recognized and rewarded – so call out good performance and the impact it has on customers at points in the journey. Support functions will by now know the contribution they make to the experience and will have customer metrics that underpin the performance of the customer facing teams that they support. So journey mapping as a methodology is here to stay, but only if customer experience teams recognize the need to make it a core methodology that is used by the entire organization to support customer experience transformation. Journey mapping needs to be at the center of customer experience change management and part of day to day operations, and to be very visible to everyone in the organization. A plan to deploy journey mapping should be a key part of an overall customer experience plan – only then will it provide the framework to support strategic and operational customer management and ensure the clarity, confidence and guidance needed to deliver the intended brand experience and to delight customers.

CustomersFirst Now (CFN) has been refining our CX solutions for more than 40 years – working with and for many Fortune 100 companies. We provide the only proven, predictive process that links customer delight to financial performance by incorporating and measuring best practices across all key business disciplines. For more information contact Kerri K Nelson, CEO & President, at knelson@customersfirstnow.com

Quick Wins, Moments of Truth and Pain Points

Quick Wins: are initiatives that create early proof points for the business, build confidence, and demonstrate that changes can be made quickly in response to customer feedback or internal ideas. They can involve changes to the experience itself or to internal capabilities. One recent example of a Quick win was with a consumer durables manufacturer where customers were getting frustrated at the time it took to receive compensation vouchers (for faulty goods). The simple remedy was to change from paper to e-vouchers – faster and easier to process, fewer heated calls to the call centre, and vouchers in customer’s hands quicker for them to quickly address their purchase needs.

Moments of Truth (MOT): can occur at any point in the journey and are the most important points in the overall experience to the customer. The experience at these points can therefore have a significant upside or downside impact on the customer’s attitude to the brand, with a resulting influence on behavior. As a result they are often the focus or many early CX improvement initiatives. The early stages of the experience are key in determining longer-term loyalty, so moments of truth often appear in the ‘on-boarding’ stages. One recent MOT example was where the consumer was seeking to self install a new cable TV box, with huge excitement and anticipation. However, instructions were complex resulting in early failure to achieve anticipated viewing pleasure and incurring numerous follow-up calls to customer care for support.

Pain Points: like MOTs these can happen anywhere in the journey though the customer is less forgiving when they occur in the early stages, often resulting in non purchase, or early loss. Where pain points occur at MOT these should be addressed urgently as they will be damaging the brand and seriously impacting behavior. ‘Pain’ is caused when the experience fails to meet customer expectations or requires the customer to take extra time or make additional effort to achieve their objectives – strong and negative emotions can result where the pain is frequent or high. In technology companies the inbound technical support call is a frequent pain point, with the service staff failing to identify the competency of the caller and therefore not talking to the customer in an appropriate way – the result is frustration for both parties and often failure to achieve first time resolution.

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