Rapper, singer and songwriter Drake coined the quote, “sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination”. And for this article I will take some artistic liberty and adjust Drakes quote to “it’s always the customer’s journey that teaches you a lot about your organisation “
One of the main components of a rigorous Customer Experience strategy is Customer Journey Mapping. Customer Journey Mapping is the process of capturing your customers’ experiences with your organisation across all major and minor touch points. Touch points refer to all those times and instances where a customer interacts with your company. They can range from your online touch points such as your website or your social media content to your front office team or even to your security guards!
Journey mapping, therefore, is a useful activity which helps to understand the flow of the experiences the customer has within your organisation.
Assemble the right team!
The key to getting started is to assemble the right team. From my experience, assembling a cross –functional team is a critical first step. This is irrespective of the customer journey you are mapping. A cross functional team drives greater insight into the customer journey and presents a beneficial learning opportunity for all team members. Customer journey mapping really shouldn’t be driven solely by Customer Experience (CX) practitioners, it’s imperative that all major functions across the organisation are involved too. At the culmination of any successful mapping exercise, it’s quite typical for the mapping team to emerge with a greater sense of customer focus!
The starting point can be the most dynamic part of the mapping process—which entry points are you going to start with? So you must ask yourself a key question –how did the journey start? Let’s use an example of a car dealership. Did the customer’s first touch point with you occur at an event where your car was on display-perhaps the customer spoke to a rep there? Was it via your website and did the customer submit a query about the cost of a particular vehicle? Was it a simple walk in or was it via a phone call to maybe a call centre? Or did they click through to your website from an online ad? It’s important to know how the customer journey started – this information is especially useful for the product development and marketing teams. A careful review of what stimuli encouraged the prospective customer to engage with your organisation is information that is always useful to note.
There are however many ways to categorise the journey. You could start by looking at the main customer journeys within your organisation and define them either by new and repeat customers. Another approach can be from the perspective of personas. Personas are simply detailed profiles of hypothetical customers.
Take for instance, a segment of your customers who occupy the 60-70-year demographic, tend to do most of their business with you in a brick and mortar location and like to spend lots of time engaging with the customer service reps. Let’s name that persona Esmerelda and examine the way in which Esmeralda would navigate the organisation. Therefore, you would track the customer journey based on the consumer behaviour patterns of Esmerelda.
How is it done
Many companies bring in Customer Experience (CX) consultants and use computer software to map the customer journeys, but if you don’t have the budget to accommodate that –it is still entirely feasible. So grab your markers, your tape, whip out your largest post-it notes and sequester your cross functional team for a couple days and start the mapping process. It’s quite simple. It’s a series of questions, carefully reviewing what happens next, what does the customer do next or more importantly where does the organisation direct the customer next? The important question to ask yourself is your organisation connecting with its customers or are you colliding? You should always observe how customers feel at certain touchpoints, what emotions are you creating at that point in time. If the emotions are negative and cause customer angst, you must take the time to arrive at a solution to erase this.
Customer journey mapping also highlights weak touchpoints which are often driven by poor internal processes. What I have found useful is to simply analyse and review any critical business processes during the mapping exercise. Some practitioners may say this can distract from the mapping, but if simplifying a critical process during the mapping stage will make life easier for the customer, then take advantage of it! You will however have to distinguish between the offstage and onstage touchpoints. Onstage refers to what’s visible to the customer and offstage is what is not visible to the customer.
Customer journey mapping forces an organisation to look at itself through the eyes of its customers and therefore we should expect some changes to occur as a result. Oftentimes, teams are shocked that customers are providing the same information at different touchpoints and perhaps the transfer of that information to another touchpoint could actually speed up the transaction times.
Don’t Just Map …Improve the Journey!
After investing so much time and energy into customer journey mapping, you cannot allow your findings to be relegated to a mere academic exercise. You must use the findings to improve your customers’ experience at every touchpoint. Whether that is promoting a seamless customer experience, reducing transaction time or simply even training your security personnel. Furthermore you should use this exercise as a major starting point to driving customer metrics in your business.
Next week I’ll share more on customer experience metrics and why they matter!