Mapping the Customer Service Journey in Four Easy Steps

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Ring­ing in a New Year is a great time for busi­nesses to take some time to reflect on the suc­cesses and chal­lenges of the prior year and to think strate­gi­cally about the goals and out­comes they hope to achieve in the New Year. In Stephen R. Covey’s book “7 Habits of Highly Effec­tive Peo­ple” he intro­duces the con­cept of first seek­ing to under­stand. While this con­cept was dis­cussed as an impor­tant skill that effec­tive peo­ple prac­ticed, the same con­cept applies to the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney. Before a com­pany can cre­ate a cus­tomer ser­vice strat­egy, the cus­tomer jour­ney must first be under­stood.  As tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to quickly evolve and dis­rupt our pat­terns, this under­stand­ing of the cus­tomer becomes increas­ingly impor­tant. With so many touch­points for cus­tomers to inter­act with a prod­uct or brand, learn­ing the habits of your cus­tomers is cru­cial to cre­ate the most effec­tive strate­gies for cus­tomer ser­vice suc­cess.

There are many tools and charts that orga­ni­za­tions rely upon to best under­stand the inter­sec­tion of the cus­tomer and the company’s brand or prod­uct. Cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map­ping is prob­a­bly the most impor­tant tool for your orga­ni­za­tion to track and under­stand so that rel­e­vant prac­tices and com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies can be imple­mented. Quite sim­ply, cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map­ping is the process of putting the steps, stages and touch­points your cus­tomer goes through while inter­act­ing with your prod­uct, brand or ser­vice, along with their emo­tional jour­ney, into a visual map. A detailed map con­veys the hows and whys of your customer’s jour­ney. For instance, how is your cus­tomer con­nect­ing with your com­pany; how do they feel at var­i­ous touch­points; why are they choos­ing one entry point over another; and why are they choos­ing your prod­uct or ser­vice over your com­pe­ti­tion. A com­pre­hen­sive cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map goes beyond the pur­chase and delves deeper into the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence before, dur­ing and after inter­act­ing with your prod­uct, brand or service.



Even if your orga­ni­za­tion has the struc­tures and tools in place to guide your cus­tomer jour­ney, these struc­tures aren’t sta­tic and need to be revis­ited annu­ally to ensure you remain on the right track. Whether your orga­ni­za­tion is in its start-up phase or has been estab­lished for years, the same rules apply: map­ping out your cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney requires com­mit­ment, input and updat­ing so you can meet your cus­tomers where they’re at and pro­vide them with incen­tive to keep return­ing to your prod­uct or brand.

Cre­at­ing the Cus­tomer Ser­vice Jour­ney Map

Some­times not know­ing where to start is what pre­vents us from achiev­ing our goals. Let’s break down some of the steps to cre­at­ing a cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map so you can feel con­fi­dent about imple­ment­ing this impor­tant tool within your orga­ni­za­tion. Keep in mind that the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney map is all about your cus­tomer and his per­spec­tive. Cus­tomer jour­ney maps are tools to pro­vide insight into how your cus­tomers per­ceive and inter­act with you and isn’t a mar­ket­ing tool for how you want to be perceived.

Step #1—You know more than you think

The eas­i­est place to start in under­stand­ing your cus­tomer is with your exist­ing cus­tomer related data. Min­ing your web ana­lyt­ics, comb­ing through the most fre­quently asked ques­tions posed to your live-chat and call cen­ter oper­a­tors, and query­ing your exist­ing stake­hold­ers will offer up loads of valu­able data as a start­ing place. To begin mak­ing sense of the data, the next step is to break it down into the var­i­ous touch­points your cus­tomers inter­act with your brand or prod­uct. Web ana­lyt­ics, c-sats, cus­tomer ser­vice logs and other sources will allow you to under­stand the cus­tomer through each of the chan­nels that your cus­tomers inter­act with you. Although your employ­ees are valu­able resources for improv­ing your cus­tomer ser­vice deliv­ery strate­gies, be care­ful not to turn to employ­ees when map­ping your cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney. Employ­ees are biased toward their expe­ri­ences and not nec­es­sar­ily think­ing about the where the cus­tomer is com­ing from. Remem­ber, you are cre­at­ing a tool that allows you to walk in your customer’s shoes to get an out­side per­spec­tive as to how your brand/product/service is perceived.

Step #2—Give equal time to all your touchpoints             



Com­pa­nies are slowly real­iz­ing the impor­tance of cre­at­ing omni-channel cus­tomer ser­vice strate­gies, and map­ping the cus­tomer jour­ney is the place to start. With so many options for cus­tomers to access com­pa­nies, whether it’s a bricks-and-mortar store or vir­tual, make sure to include ALL the ways your cus­tomers access you. Be pre­pared that there may be entry points that you aren’t aware of and don’t have con­trol of, such as word-of-mouth, friends and fam­ily. Just because you can’t con­trol these touch­points and the fact that they’re harder to quan­tify, doesn’t mean they don’t war­rant atten­tion. Again, when think­ing of your touch­points from the customer’s point of view allows you see which chan­nels need improvement.

Step #3—Understand the emo­tional triggers

Every jour­ney and touch­point your cus­tomer encoun­ters with your brand or prod­uct has an emo­tional impact. Under­stand­ing the emo­tional trig­gers involved with your touch­points is impor­tant so you can craft your responses to either mit­i­gate neg­a­tive emo­tional responses or enhance pos­i­tive ones. Keep in mind that try­ing to elim­i­nate ALL neg­a­tive responses is not only futile, but unnec­es­sary. Cus­tomers are will­ing to “suf­fer” a bit so long as cer­tain touch­points are per­ceived as pos­i­tive. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it makes sense when you start to think about it from the customer’s per­spec­tive. Take for instance the call-center. While cus­tomers may respond that they expe­ri­ence “neg­a­tive” emo­tions while hold­ing to speak with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, so long as their needs are met once they do speak with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive, they’ll remem­ber the over­all expe­ri­ence as pos­i­tive, not neg­a­tive. Under­stand­ing emo­tional trig­gers along the cus­tomer ser­vice jour­ney is impor­tant, as cus­tomers make pur­chase deci­sions based upon their emo­tional responses.

Step #4—Know the moments of truth

Know­ing which moments have high impact on your cus­tomer allows you to focus on tar­get­ing those areas and focus resources. A “moment of truth” is when your cus­tomer pauses to assess if she is sat­is­fied or dis­sat­is­fied with her expe­ri­ence. Depend­ing on her expe­ri­ence, she’ll either con­tinue on with you or decide to bail out. Learn­ing these piv­otal deci­sion points is impor­tant for all the obvi­ous reasons.

You’ve devel­oped a Cus­tomer Ser­vice Jour­ney Map—now what?



Once your map is com­pleted it will be a tool that will ben­e­fit most every­one in your orga­ni­za­tion. Cus­tomer jour­ney maps aren’t lim­ited to only those who inter­act directly with cus­tomers. Brand­ing and mar­ket­ing depart­ments use these maps to under­stand where the tip­ping points are in the jour­ney and cre­ate cam­paigns around those points to nudge cus­tomers toward a pur­chase. Prod­uct Devel­op­ment teams ben­e­fit because under­stand­ing the cus­tomer allows for the cre­ation of prod­ucts that cus­tomers actu­ally want. Cus­tomer ser­vice staff, dis­tri­b­u­tion teams and exec­u­tives all ben­e­fit as well. See­ing your orga­ni­za­tion the way your cus­tomer per­ceives you allows for real­is­tic bud­get­ing, mar­ket­ing cam­paigns that ring true to the cus­tomer, and train­ing that is tar­geted to pro­vid­ing top-notch cus­tomer ser­vice. Keep in mind that the cus­tomer jour­ney map is an evolv­ing tool, so revisit it annu­ally and enjoy the ben­e­fits of truly know­ing your customer!

3 COMMENTS

  1. Jodi, very well written. I wiould add:
    1. How do we reduce the customer;s journey?
    2. How do we ensure that the customer is not being made to do a journey that the company should make (for example, the company is supposed to call back and they do not, causing the customer to make another journey
    3. The company makes the customer make a journey they should be making (we do not have the part, call so and so department…that is the company’s job and journey)

  2. I like this quite a lot. As you accurately point out, perhaps the most effective way of optimizing the customer service journey is to have a proven “process for the process”. And, it’s absolutely essential that everyone in the organization be reading from the same page at the same time. At Beyond Philosophy (www.beyondphilosophy.com), we have been helping clients around the world evaluate and refine both the emotional and functional elements of value, and then providing pathways to apply and sustain the refinements. The only thing I’d add to your post is that journey mapping applies to the entire customer experience, of which service is an important component. Mapping can also include the sales, communication, relationship, and marketing components of value delivery.

  3. Jodi – you have pointed out some important things to understand about customers, but to me, your “steps” seem more like categories or clusters of information than an ordinal process. E.g. ‘understanding emotional triggers’ might be a mandatory precursor to documenting a buying pathway, and would not necessarily come after identifying channels and customer touchpoints.

    I’m particularly curious about the ‘moment of truth’ that you describe, since it differs from my view on this. While I recognize that there are moments in the customer experience that are more crucial than others – say, when I first try on a pair of shoes that I have ordered from Zappos – I can’t figure out how to tease out ‘moments of truth’ from the continuum of experiences. In the Zappos example, I might be delighted if my order arrives less than 24 hours from the time I selected my item online, but do I pause to make an assessment in any kind of methodical way? Not really. For many (not all) products, I look at customer experience as more of a continuous function, and not one that has distinct decision points where a customer would stop or pause and be deliberately introspective, as in ‘am I pleased with this?’.

    Seeking to discover and document ‘moments of truth’ and to suggest that there are binary outcomes (satisfied/dissatisfied) seems to give up much of the texture that’s really embedded into the customer journey – especially in B2C transactions.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding your points, so If you have an example or two, that would help.

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