Over the last 10 – 15 years there has been a gradual increase in the use of customer journey mapping by all the major consumer and business to business brands. In fact, when we meet organizations for the first time, it’s unusual now if journey maps haven’t been created.

So does this indicate that customer journey mapping has come of age and is now at the core of effective customer experience management? Or are we at an early stage of its lifecycle, and the real issue is about the challenge of how organizations can derive much more value by using customer journey mapping as a key enabling methodology to underpin all effective customer centric change and intended experience delivery?

The real value – engaging the organization! 

We meet organizations at different levels of customer experience capability, some just starting out, and others who have developed their capabilities over many years. The most usual application of customer journey mapping is in understanding and visualizing the current state experience – and these indicate the stages of the journey, the moments of truth and pain points, functional and emotional needs, and customer attitudes.

This is hugely important as a starting point, to show the experience on ‘one page’, uncover insights, and engage leadership and the different functions in looking at their activities and the overall business through a single lens, that of the customer – it unifies and provides a common language, quite often for the first time.

Maps don’t change anything!

But don’t stop there! The organization now anticipates that the issues and insights it has unearthed will be addressed. So its value at the next step is to help visualize what the experience will look like in future, how it is different from today, and where the priorities for change are in the customer journey.

Measurement of the experience is key

There are always going to be quick wins to address but before we move to redesign the experience on a broader scale we need to identify the key points on the map that are important for our customers. The map is a template so we can pinpoint where to measure the voice of our customer (VoC), and have the internal customer metrics in place so we see if we are effectively managing delivery and providing the intended experience. We can then redesign the experience and see the impact, visualizing this for the organization on how it is performing at the key points in the journey that drive customer delight.

Aligning our operations behind the intended experience

Many improvement initiatives fail because business operations are not set up to deliver the intended experience. Linking the various attributes of our operations (processes, data, infrastructure, people, customer materials etc) with each key customer event, stage of the journey and the touch point allows us to see the impact of any one single attribute changing on all the other attributes – providing the basis for effective governance and management of change.

How can we control our brand?

Of course, in a large organization, there may be hundreds of customer journeys, for different customers, in different geographic markets, possibly maps for different product groups. How can any organization deliver and control its brand experience across this sea of strategic and operational change? The customer journey map enables control, by laying down specific and deliberate standards and measures at each point in the journey, and then enabling organizations to compare and contrast the experience, and its performance, across customer groups and markets, enabling good practice transfer across the organization.

A methodology for Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)

Where organizations grow through acquisition, retaining the value of the acquired customer is essential – and yet an objective assessment of the strength of acquired customer relationships is almost entirely absent from conventional M&A due diligence processes. Integration processes are highly complex, and in large businesses they require a robust and repeatable framework to ensure that the value of the acquired asset is protected as the acquired company is brought on board, while still maintaining speed and efficiency. Bringing the customer experience perspective, through customer journey mapping into that framework offers a greater prospect of retaining the sought for benefits.

So journey mapping as a methodology is here to stay, but going forward, there are huge opportunities to derive value from its application at the core of customer centered change and operational management – its future use will be about providing the framework to support strategic and operational customer management and provide the clarity, confidence and guidance needed to deliver the intended brand experience and customer delight.

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

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