Customer Experience is now recognised as a profession – as I am sure many are bored with hearing me repeat over and over again! As with any profession, it is defined by a number of competencies, tools, techniques and methodologies that are recognised and practised by thousands of specialists around the world. It is a challenging profession for a variety of reasons – largely because it is not ‘black and white’. There is no one way of doing anything when it comes to Customer Experience. The art and skill of the Customer Experience Professional is knowing how to adapt and flex the tools, techniques and disciplines for any and every situation that faces them.
As a result, the Customer Experience discipline is most definitely NOT a tick, or check box exercise! Whilst it is tempting to use a multitude of tools and complete a whole series of tasks, like most things in life, let alone business, you do not do something simply for the sake of it! From the creation of customer personas, to visions, missions and values, businesses spend so much time working on things with great intent, only to fail to actually use or apply them. Too often, we are lulled into the belief that things MUST be done, even if we do not quite understand exactly WHAT it is we are supposed to be doing with the things we create.
One of the greatest examples of this in the world of Customer Experience is with Customer Journey Mapping. An exercise that organisations are becoming increasingly and consciously aware of, it is astonishing just how many business have been involved with them over the last few years. Just a simple ‘Googling’ of the words ‘Customer Journey Map’, returns a whole series of beautiful pictures!
Some are simple. Some are complicated. There is no one way of doing it. However (there is always one of those), the process of customer journey mapping is much misunderstood. Most organisations are creating customer journey maps – with great discipline and vigour. Yet what is becoming clearer and clearer over time, is that despite the process of ‘mapping’ becoming more sophisticated over time (through the creation of prettier pictures), too few are using the mapping of the journey as one component of the art of customer journey MANAGEMENT.
Creating a visualisation of the customer journey (which is another description of customer journey mapping), is just one necessary activity to enable an organisation to have the ability to continuously and indefinitely MANAGE the customer journey. Creating beautiful pictures that become ‘corporate wallpaper’ is not the primary objective though! That is why I am actively encouraging – if not urging – organisations to stop talking about customer journey mapping – and instead use the term ‘customer journey management’. So few businesses are using customer journey maps strategically – as a core part of the ongoing management of their organisation. Instead, they see the creation of customer journey maps as a task – something that is done once – never to be repeated again.
Failure to understand the true role of a customer journey map, is likely to deem the exercise of creating them completely worthless. In a world where no organisation has infinite resources to keep people busy conducting tasks for no particular reason, it is critical to ensure that the management of the customer journey becomes part of the way a business works. Everyone in the organisation – from the CEO to the front line – needs to know what the customer journey is AND the role they play in delivering/improving it – continuously.
Managing the customer journey is not ‘black or white’, in the same way as any other tool or technique in the Customer Experience Professionals armoury. However, if you want to embed the customer journey into the way your organisations works – to enable the continuous management of it – you should consider the following eleven questions:
- Do you know who your customer(s) are?
- Have you mapped the end to end customer journey(s) to represent the current state experience of all types of customer?
- Have you implemented a measurement system that captures customer perception (voice of the customer) of the end to end customer journey(s)?
- Have you implemented a measurement system that captures employee perception (voice of the employee) of the same end to end customer journey(s)?
- Have you implemented a measurement system that captures the ability of internal processes to deliver the end to end customer journey(s) (voice of the process)?
- Have you identified accountable process owners for every stage and touch point in your end to end customer journey(s)?
- Are you reviewing the measurable performance of the customer journey(s) as part of your strategic decision-making review processes (in line with the way you measure business performance)?
- Do you have a programme of activity addressing/improving the priority issues in the journey(s)
- Is the customer journey(s) reviewed as part of your business planning cycle – monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly or yearly?
- Are your customer journey(s) maps updated and validated at least once a year?
- Does every employee in your organisation know the role they play in delivering the end to end customer journey(s)?
What is clear from this list is that customer journey management is NOT just about mapping the journey. Management of the journey contains a whole series of activities, that if deployed effectively, will enable the continuous improvement of it.
If your organisation is not doing many of the things described in this post, then stop talking about customer journey mapping. Encourage your business to think about the continuous management of the customer journey – that simple change of mind-set is likely to lead to you maximising the benefit of one of the core Customer Experience competencies.