Customer journey mapping: time for a rethink

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Even in normal times – and we live in anything but normal times – there are aspects of customer journeys that you won’t have seen or anticipated. New journeys need to be identified and pieced together – end to end. But the methods most companies still use are rooted in a siloed, functional, 1990s mindset. The focus is frequently on a specific touchpoint or process to reduce cost and / or improve process efficiency. Even though customer journey mapping is much talked about; many businesses go about it the wrong way.

Let’s take a look in more detail at the reasons why organisations need to rethink their approach.

Why most mapping strategies need rewiring

1. Covid – obviously there’s Covid

Behavioural change on the scale we’ve seen has changed the way customers interact with brands. Organisations need to remap key journeys to reflect a post-Covid world. For instance, if you are a retailer, what does the map look like as online consultations move back in store? Or what happens if there are supply chain issues later this year? If you are a bank, what does the customer journey look like for a premium account holder that has moved their financial life online? What does the house buying journey look like today? What implications does this have for the way in which customers secure a mortgage and buy household insurance?

2. A process engineering approach

Some organisations still lean in on the philosophy and planning of the Kaizen school of business improvement that grew out of Japanese manufacturing in the 1970s and ‘80s. The focus is on the continuous improvement of specific processes. While improving the efficiency of any process is a good thing, it’s not the same as looking at the end to end journey.

The focus on individual processes, which are often, in our experience, analysed in isolation tells us nothing about how well customers are being served along the whole journey. When looking for ways in which the entire experience could be redesigned to create a better outcome for customers, you have to look end to end and at the interface between the stages in the journey.

In seeking to improve efficiency – by eliminating errors – continuous improvement practitioners also sometimes overlook the importance of empathy and emotional intelligence as key ingredients in what are often emotionally-laden choices consumers make.

3. An inside out perspective

Even when organisations do try to map an entire journey, most adopt an internal view. The customer journey is seen through the departmental lenses that underpin the current experience. At best this leads to marginal improvements in the status quo rather than creative thinking around transformational CX changes.

In our work with a banking client we helped them reduce the onboarding time of new customers from 60 days to 15 days. This was achieved by completely rethinking the entire journey and eliminating (or combining) processes that created little or no value for the customer. We also helped the bank see the parts of the journey that did create value. By focusing on those areas through the eyes of the customer they were able to ‘dial up’ the experience where it really mattered.

5 tips to (re) map your customer journeys

1. Get executive support

Few companies take a top down view of critical customer journeys and priority touchpoints (digital or physical). It’s no coincidence that the companies that deliver exceptional customer experiences are led by executives that believe in CX and champion initiatives.

As you map your customer journeys, executive support will help build a CX culture across the organisation. A strong CX culture is critical to a strong customer-led recovery. The latter will be difficult to achieve without the former. Executive sponsorship will also help you overcome operational roadblocks to deliver the positive change you are seeking. This will require cross-functional alignment.

2. Form a cross-functional team

As we mentioned earlier, businesses are still mapping journeys in silos. Different departments build the business case. Competing priorities, outcomes and budgets mean individual teams map journeys that are specific to their function. For example, a customer service team might identify that they need additional skills training to fix a customer pain point. But if HR isn’t involved in the mapping process and doesn’t understand the value of the training – to the customer and to the business – then it probably won’t happen.

Input is required from everyone that builds and delivers the experience at multiple touchpoints. Every team that has responsibility for the customer needs a seat at the mapping table. Think about how teams and touchpoints work together to break down silos. What are the shared objectives?

Creating a cross-functional team will help you do four things:

  • Visualise – visualise and deconstruct the current end-to-end journey
  • Innovate and delight – offer personalisation and empathetic moments
  • Anticipate – identify the future state of your CX programme
  • Measure – analyse the direct link between CX investment and the impact on business results

3. Identify and understand the persona and purpose of your high value customers

Businesses usually map journeys to deliver an outcome the organisation wants (the business purpose). CX leaders, in contrast, map journeys that address the purpose of their most valuable customers.

The big questions here are:

  • What is your customers’ intended purpose when they interact with your brand?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • How can you develop experiences that enable customers to achieve their purpose?

You’ll need to roll up your sleeves to do your research. What’s changed since the pandemic? Has your customer demographic changed?  How have customers’ interests, lifestyle, attitudes, behaviours, motivations, beliefs and expectations also changed?

Build resilience through customer data

Look beyond your structured data and the drivers of customer satisfaction (usually expressed in customer feedback surveys). Relying on the data that you ask customers for means your insights will be limited. Survey questions, online quizzes and polls can ‘influence’ the answers customers give. Tick box answers are difficult to interpret. Companies rarely just ask “how did we do?” Customers often say one thing and do another.

Structured data will help you understand the “what” and “how” of current journeys.  You won’t get to the “why”. To get to this, think about the unstructured data that you already have.

Here’s a quick list of the types of unstructured data that will help you better understand your most valuable customers.

  • Employee feedback
  • Transaction / purchase history
  • Footfall and channel data
  • Customer support history
  • Social media profile data and messages
  • Insight from AI-powered solutions
  • Web, app and product usage data
  • Preference centre data
  • Email / newsletter engagement
  • Loyalty programme information

Where are the gaps and who can you turn to fill these?

4. Map journeys from a customer viewpoint in ways that are consistent with your brand

A journey is mapped from the customer viewpoint in the O2 example below. (“I buy”… “I set up”,,, “I use”). O2 has a clear understanding (through the eyes of the customer) of key moments in the journey where it can design a superior CX and create long term loyalty.

The quality of experiences at these key touchpoints influence customer willingness to recommend the brand. There are seven jumping off points. Every interaction here is an opportunity for the business to introduce an intervention that becomes a hallmark of their brand.

Note how the journey ends with “My loyalty is valued and I recommend 02”. O2 rightly maps a touchpoint where customers seek reward for their loyalty. This is one of the most overlooked areas in mapping.

5. Map journeys “to be” – not just “as is”

Mapping customer journeys “as is” means the status quo. CX leaders go further to map journeys “to be”. They innovate and design new interventions and touchpoints that customers might not yet know they want. The following customer journey map that we helped Symantec to design is a good example of how to map journeys “as is” (the red line) and “to be” (the green line).

The “as is” journey

Note how the “as is” journey slowly undulates. It only attains the ‘brilliant basics’ during the ‘consideration’ phase.

The “to be” journey

You’ll notice that are three / four deliberate peaks in the “to be” journey at ‘consideration’, ‘get help’, perceived value’ and ‘overall relationship’. This journey was developed with the peak-end rule in mind.

Peaks are where interventions are most powerful because these are moments when customers’ emotions are heightened. The pleasure and quality of our past experiences are almost entirely determined by two things:

  • The intensity of the experience at its peak
  • How it felt when it ended

By identifying these peaks, Symantec was able to focus investment on creating three / four magic moments in the future journey. There was an opportunity to introduce improvements that were again hallmarks for the brand. (While Symantec needed to improve the other four (blue) touchpoints, which were performing below customers’ expectations, they did not need to over-invest and try to create magic moments here – meeting expectations was good enough).

Here are just two examples of where it did make improvements – at ‘get help’:

  • We provide a single help number that customers can call to reach technical support. Customers can speak to a real person in their own language.
  • Our people are quick to answer (within 3 rings) and they take ownership for resolving the customer problem at the first point of contact. If this is not possible they are proactive in letting the customer know the status of the issue until it is resolved.

One final tip …

Link specific CX interventions to a specific business result. This makes it easier to measure the ROI on your investment. Mapping your customer journey is one thing. However, most business still struggle to demonstrate the business benefit of their efforts. This inability to prove CX ROI is one of the biggest barriers to securing executive buy-in and budget, and then sustaining investment and sponsorship for programmes. You’ll probably never get past tip #1 without a clearly defined measurement strategy as you build the business case.

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