No matter how carefully plotted your customer journey map, it can always benefit from a fresh perspective—especially one from outside your organization. The map we developed and were using and fine-tuning for years at the B2B technology company for which I work is a case in point.
That version is no longer. With some direct feedback from an astute analyst a year ago, we made some major changes. It has not been an easy process, but the experience is worth sharing here. Especially for those CX practitioners who—like me a year ago—think your journey map is just about perfect.
Our new version is a more accurate reflection of the customer perspective when evaluating and implementing our products. What’s more, it’s in a format that, unlike our previous 25-foot-long version, is easily shared in a single electronic slide. Easily updated, too. That’s a huge advantage for a company whose goal is a journey map that is more than wall art—a dynamic, constantly evolving diagram of the customer experience, and how we are working to improve it.
How did we get there? Here are three steps that helped us take our journey map to a whole new level.
1. Take the customer’s point of view
Our previous map was carefully crafted around how a customer travels through our company—from marketing to sales to contract negotiations with our legal team to implementation to support to renewal. It showed each touchpoint a prospect/customer has with each one of those departments.
At our user conference in Dallas last year, Mitch Lieberman, co-founder of ConversationalX , was one of our guest speakers. He attended one of my presentations where I had our journey map on display, and he told me quite frankly that it was interesting we called it a customer journey map because what he saw was an internal, siloed view of our company. He reminded me that customers really don’t care which department they’re interacting with when they interact with a brand. All they see is the brand regardless of whether they are speaking with legal, sales or customer service.
I must admit I was taken aback, but once I got home, I decided to take his comments to heart. We had created a customer engagement director position and recently filled it, so I challenged our new team member to look at our customer journey map in a new way. I asked her to focus on how we can provide more support for our customers at each phase of their lifecycle with us, and on what we can do to help them achieve success in those phases.
She came to us from a company who had a mature customer journey mapping function, where they had gone through a similar exercise, so she was well-equipped to bring a fresh approach to the project.
We started by changing the map’s basic structure, designing it along the typical phases a company goes through when selecting a software solution: Evaluate Options, Follow Procurement Process, etc. In each of those phases, we mapped the touchpoints a customer has with our company … or could have. We were quite literally turning our old journey map inside out! And in the process, we saw that we were gaining new insights into the customer’s mindset, activities and objectives in each phase.
2. Make it roomy
While we have tightly focused our journey map and made it more succinct, we also have given it more dimension—more room, if you will. For example, by starting the new map with the customer activity of “Evaluate Options,” we included much more detail about how companies go about conducting a market analysis, defining business requirements, creating a business case—as well as the role we play in those activities.
Our big takeaway here is that we should never underestimate the evaluation phase and should work to be part of it every step of the way. We have identified many opportunities where we can help a company shape its requirements to ensure it is incorporating the most innovative processes and best practices to be competitive today.
We also found that our old journey map ended too soon. Once our teams deployed software and trained the customer how to use it, the old map concluded that, other than service and support, our job was pretty much done. What we realized as we built our new map was that customers typically go through two stages: They learn to use our product, and a little later they cross a chasm, so to speak, and learn to REALLY use our product. That is, they move from learning the basics to a deeper level where they comfortably leverage all the advanced features of our software. Most importantly, they begin to see real business benefit from that leverage.
As consumers, we all experience those phases when we make a major purchase. You buy a new SUV, for example. Over the first few months, you’re delighted with how it performs in town, accommodates your family, gets better gas mileage than your trade-in, etc. But it might be months before you’re able to put it to the real test on that off-roading trip out west you’ve been wanting to take. You might need to revisit the owner’s manual or make a call to the dealer to get answers to questions that you just didn’t think about when you purchased the vehicle.
We deployed the same principle in our new journey map. It now concludes with two sections: one where the customer operationalizes our solutions, and one where the customer maximizes the investment in us. The beauty of this new approach is that the final phase is open-ended, signifying that there is always a new way customers can gain value from our solutions, and always more we can offer to help them achieve that value.
3. Share it widely
At our 2019 user conference in Orlando last month, we set up banners for each phase of our new journey map and invited customers to walk through the journey at the event’s Customer Experience Zone. We also invited feedback, even providing a handy barcode on the banners that customers could scan if they had a story to share about their experience at certain points in the journey. The banners highlighted the resources we offer to help them through each phase.
For example, in the “Evaluate Options” phase, we reminded them that our white papers, webinars, industry experts, online community, strategic consultants and Executive Engagement Center can provide industry-leading insights and expertise to help enterprises refine their customer engagement strategy. By helping our customers see our new emphasis on them in the latest iteration of our journey map, the “walk” was a big success. The feedback we gathered from customers during the event is already being incorporated into the map. And, since our company is all about helping our customers engage with their customers better, many told us that our map’s new approach had inspired them to apply it to their own maps once they got home.
The banners have been put away for now, but I’m confident that our new 8.5” x 11” journey map can continue to be circulated, shared throughout the year and fine-tuned according to the new insights we receive from customers at every point in their lifecycle with us.
An eye-opening experience
Someone asked how long it took us to develop the new map. My reply was that we had spent several months on it, but we don’t ever really expect to be finished with it. It has been a major undertaking, but it has been worth it—an eye-opening experience that, thanks to an analyst who wasn’t afraid to speak up, helped us put our focus exactly where it needs to be.