How to become an expert in mapping the customer journey


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Mapping the customer journey is becoming a key focus for many businesses in 2015. In the contact centre, many organisations are looking to move from a product-centric to a customer-centric culture. And this means rebuilding their business processes around the customer’s needs. In order to achieve this, customer needs must be understood.

Understanding the customer journey is the first step in developing a truly customer-centric contact centre. Yet, we carried out some research recently which shows that nine in 10 contact centres do not have a clear picture of the customer journey across all contact channels. It is vital that the industry as a whole addresses this or we are at risk of falling short of stakeholders’ rapidly changing expectations or losing out to other departments.

The six guiding principles below will help you become an expert in mapping the customer journey:

1. Remember there is no standard blueprint

Customer journey mapping is a way to describe all the experiences a customer has with your organisation and the emotional responses they provoke, whether that is via your website, in store or talking to one of your frontline customer service agents, whether via phone or Webchat. It is a vital tool to reveal opportunities for improvement in your business processes that will reduce customer effort and lead to a more satisfying experience.

While there is no right or wrong way to map the customer journey, it’s vital that it meets your organisational needs. So when putting together the blueprint for your customer journey map, think about what success looks like from an internal and external point of view — what outcome will make the customer and business stakeholders happy? To achieve this, think about what your organisation can influence in terms of providing the optimal customer experience.

2. Incorporate the voice of the agent

Agents are your eyes and ears on the ground; they quite often have a unique insight into the nuances of your customer journey. Their role in the human-to-human interaction element of your business is something to be leveraged. Agents may be able to identify significant pain points you may miss as they don’t just see what issues occur but how they impact the customer. They are experienced in delivering triage or “work arounds” to achieve an objective. Tap into this knowledge, they’re often true innovators whom will increasingly feel more ownership if you use them to shape the experience.

3. Recognise your customers are not all the same

We’re all different, and so are your customers. While you can’t understand every customer as an individual, creating rich personas that are representative of key customer groups will help you personalise the customer experience. Think about your customers, their age ranges, and their different relationships and familiarities with technology. Are they from different socio-economic backgrounds or cultures?

Sometimes management can get hung up on one particularly bad piece of feedback they might deem reflective of the entire customer journey or an issue. Try and gain perspective on what customers think as meaningful groups or collectives, and use data to help you understand what this might look like.

Seek to address the needs of the majority first – If you build your experience around my father, an internationally recognised and proliferate complainer willing to share his experiences with many a CEO, then every journey built would need to continually reiterate; ‘every thing is fine, and you are not being charged for this’. Thankfully, this isn’t the case for all of us.

4. Understand all potential customer routes – The customer journey is nonlinear

In today’s multichannel world the process of buying a service or product can be complex, involving multiple interactions taking place over a period of time. Customers have much more control over their own journey, both destination, entry point and route, than most in the industry often recognise.

Due to the nature of multichannel services in a competitive environment, it is important keep in mind a potential customer could have taken any number of many possible routes across a number of channels simultaneously by the time they speak to an agent in the contact centre.

Identify the potential needs of the customer at any point in this process and place those needs into the customer journey to mould it around them. It is important to note that a customers’ stage in a journey will not always correlate to where they are in your defined process – customers are “free range” after all.

5. Identify pain points

The regulatory environment means it’s not always easy for companies to make it as easy for customers as they’d like to. A classic example of this is forcing customers to provide their security or account details numerous times within a single transaction. It’s fascinating to see how often an agent will insist on completing a full security check before establishing what the customer need is.

Whether the agent can help, or whether they need to refer the customer elsewhere is often overlooked – never mind if the customer’s question actually pertains to something covered by the Data Protection Act. This may be unavoidable but it’s worth thinking about how to mitigate the impact on the consumer – do medics check your passport before administering help? Does your local barista swipe your card before confirming if they can make coffee?

If you can’t provide the utmost convenience for customers, ensure agents can communicate exactly why this is back to the customer effectively. Help them to prevent it from becoming a recurring inconvenience for the customer by allowing them to own some of the process.

There are also pain points for the organisation, too. Businesses invest a large amount of money in opening new channels in order to interact with the customer in new ways, like developing an app. Often these have little effect on the overall customer experience as the build and objective are misaligned. It is important to assess whether these channels provide much value to the journey, or if they drive more queries to agents in the contact centre by working improperly.

6. Test scenarios to understand the impact on your agents, as well as the customer

It is vital that you understand the inputs and outputs of a process and then rigorously test it – not just against the customer needs, but how it impacts your staff. In the same way a functional building needs architects’ drawings to bring it to life, but must also comply with building specifications, a customer journey map should be used together with user considerations to ensure it is fit for purpose.

Although mapping the customer journey is sometimes a very qualitative process, it’s also vital to think about quantity. Think about volume especially; are there any scenarios that would increase the amount of stress on your agents? Outline several of these and the conditions they create for the business. Test these stressful scenarios and create measures to mitigate detriment to your agents, and in turn, the customer journey – if an agent struggles to fulfil the customer objectives, then the key ‘get help” elements of the experience will fall flat

By following these key principles, you can ensure that your customer journey planning fits a clear organisational need. It will allow you to listen to customers’ needs and more importantly, understand and transform this data into actionable insights that you can use to find your limitations — making sure that you can meet expectations, no matter how rapidly they are changing.

Andy Smith
Andy Smith is Head of Customer Insight at EvaluAgent. At it's core, EvaluAgent is a modular cloud-based software platform designed to enhance employee and business performance for multi-channel contact centres. Wrapped around that core is a refreshingly responsive and highly flexible professional services capability.The software & professional service modules include; Quality Monitoring; Customer Surveys; FCR Measurement & Analysis; Coaching & Feedback; Performance Management; and, Gamified Recognition & Reward.


  1. Great points Andy & all true. Having seen so many Heads of Customer Experience come & go over the years, with mixed success, I would also add start small. Too many want to try and map the big customer journeys or all of them, which ends up like the CLV never ending journey. I always advice “eating the elephant” approach, break it down into bite-sized chunks and start with a journey small enough to get your head round and have some real world success that will build your reputation.

  2. One more thought (and this time logged in on my proper ID): Another reason for wanting such a small early success is to help build confidence in the allies you will need to tackle bigger systemic problems. Few organisations have customer journeys that don’t rely on multiple departments and so require multi-functional cooperation to solve the problems.


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