Customer Journey Mapping and the Road Beyond

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Years ago, it was much harder to convince a client to do a customer journey map.

In those days, many leaders were willing to map interaction points with customers in order to drive efficiency or reduce waste. When customer experience designers like myself would suggest that touchpoint maps need to be upgraded to customer journey maps we often encountered a lot of blank stares.  We would do our best to make a compelling argument that touchpoints must be examined from the perspective of the needs and perceptions of customers.

Over time, customer journey mapping has become a wildly accepted tool, and leaders are far more willing to leverage their power; particularly, when given guidance on how to construct a map that will offer visibility to improvements across people, process, and technology.

While customer journey mapping is popular today, I’ve often seen companies benefit from four strategies to garner more value from mapping efforts. I’ll list these four approaches below and discuss two of them this week and the other two in next week’s blog.

Four Strategies for Customer Journey Mapping

These strategies build on one another:

  • Validate the Map
  • Activate the Map
  • Think Map(s) not Map
  • Create a Transformation Map to Go Beyond Incremental Improvements

Validate the Map

The beauty of customer journey mapping is that the process increases your teams’ awareness of what customers are thinking, feeling, seeing, doing, wanting and needing across their interactions with your company.

Customer journey mapping often starts with leaders and team members learning about a customer persona and then thinking about that persona’s experience across the end-to-end brand journey. For some businesses, the process stops there.

The map is developed based on what leader and team members hypothesize about a customer group’s needs. In many cases, leaders never actually test the hypotheses reflected in their map. They fail to ask customers if the stages, peak moments, and pain points reflected in the map actually comport with what customers think, feel, see, do, want and need.

Typically, I consider maps created without customer input to be drafts that can only be validated by the very customers whose journeys you are seeking to depict.

Activate the Map

I have seen some beautiful customer journey maps in my day. In fact, some are so intricate that you could explore them for hours.

Of course, few people in a company have that kind of time to savor the intricacies of a map. Team members are being paid to produce results for customers, not look at depictions of a customer experience. That is where activation comes in.

Activation often involves:

  1. Training on the components of the map
  2. Assisting team members to view the map as an evolving customer journey
  3. Delineation of tools for using the map to innovate solutions in keeping with the desired customer experience and brand character
  4. Ways to have innovative ideas evaluated and implemented across the enterprise
  5. A consistent celebration of solutions that reduce/remove pain points, streamline the customer experience, and/or enhance positive emotions for customers

Next week I will talk about how a singular or fixed customer journey map fails to appreciate the fluidity of customer preferences as well as how core customer segments differ across their journeys. I will also address the fact that customer journey mapping often explores how customers experience existing interaction points and look for ways to improve on those existing elements.

What the journey mapping process often fails to achieve is the transformative inquiry into what customers would want if you built interactions from scratch. We will dive into all of that in more detail next week.

For now, I have three questions for you:

  • Are you mapping interactions from your business’ perspective or from the vantage point of the customer journey?
  • If you have invested in mapping the customer journey, have you validated your map by seeking feedback from customers?
  • What recent breakthroughs and innovations have come from your mapping efforts?

I have been fortunate to watch clients make improvements in customer interactions that show demonstrable impact on customer loyalty and referrals. I have also seen leaders leverage customer journey maps to remove unnecessary steps, drive seamless interactions, and delight customers.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been hired by leaders who had prior bad experiences designing maps that were little more than beautiful hypotheses of what customer might have felt about a journey that those leaders couldn’t seem to improve.

Hopefully, you will take needed actions to assure your company will fall into the effective customer mapping group!

The post Customer Journey Mapping and the Road Beyond appeared first on Joseph Michelli.

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