In our last post, we discussed three common pitfalls companies encounter in their customer journey marketing (CJM) initiatives: little support from the C-suite, a short-sided view of the end goal, and limited customer perspective.

On the flip side, we’ve seen first-hand that companies are doing transformative and innovative CJM work. Those companies even call CJM their superpower.

As Gartner notes, those successful CJM programs create usable journey maps. They take action on what they learn from journey mapping exercises, and they operationalize those learnings throughout the business.

You can follow their lead.

Let’s say you’ve launched a promising CJM initiative. You’ve completed an energizing workshop and designed a powerful journey map visual. What’s next? How do you avoid the traps that derail other CJM programs?

Here are three steps you can take to keep your momentum and make CJM a core part of your business.

#1: Take Action to Address Identified Customer Pain Points

Keep in mind that your journey map is more than just a static visual. It’s a living, strategic asset that helps keep the customer’s journey front of mind for everyone in your organization. Socializing your journey map is critical. You’ll need to engage stakeholders from across the business, even people whose functions don’t directly touch customers.

The reason? Everyone — and everything — must work together to deliver a “one company” experience to your customers.

You’ll need to align systems, policies, processes and culture around the needs of customers. And you’ll need to make sure that your journey map doesn’t just reflect customer touch points, it should include the operational components that underpin those touch points.

Ultimately, you need to connect the high-level journey to the “nuts and bolts” of how things work in your company.

Along the way, you’ll start to uncover trouble spots in the customer journey. You’ll find the pain points where friction or frustrations run high — and you may discover a lot of them.

How do you address these pain points? Prioritize fixes based on value to the customer. Look for opportunities to deliver high value with the least effort. You can also create a list of issues you may fix and ones to avoid.

What if addressing a pain point offers customer and competitive value? That is likely a higher-priority must do.

Typically, tackling customer pain points involves people beyond your CX team, and that’s when all the hard work you’ve done to socialize your journey map starts to pay off. People in other departments, from IT to legal to accounting, will understand how their day-to-day work affects customers, and that will make them more willing to work with you to make crucial changes.

#2: Plan for Journey Map Updates

Your journey map is only valuable if it depicts the current state of the customer experience. As your business changes, your journey map needs to change, too.

Does that sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be.

The good news is you don’t need to do a complete overhaul every time something shifts. You can update micro-journeys and plan for a more thorough review every 12 to 18 months.

What are some trigger events that may compel micro-journey updates? A retailer who has updated the checkout process needs to relook at that segment of its customer journey. If you’ve launched a new product or initiated a new process, related micro-journeys likely need attention.

Also, your customer journeys may feel the effects of activity outside of your company. New regulations can impact how you do business and how customers engage with you. And a new competitor in your space can reset customer expectations about how companies like yours should do business.

Sometimes, minor system changes that seem innocuous can be felt by your customers. Does a database update require an extra click for customers during onboarding? That small tweak can affect customer perceptions and should be addressed in your journey map.

Watch your Net Promoter Score trends. Listen to your voice of the customer feedback. Pay attention to your listening posts. Let your customers tell you when a shift to your journey map is necessary.

The bottom line: plan for regular, smaller updates to your journey map and relook at the whole journey every 12 to 18 months.

#3: Always Align Experiences With Your Brand Promise

At times, your journey map may unearth hidden problems in how you interact with customers. You may find that the actions you take don’t always sync up with your brand promise.

As Forrester Research explains:

To differentiate, companies must create resonance between brand and customer experience (CX) at every step of customers’ journeys — but often don’t. The result: brand promises that remain unfulfilled — and customer journeys that are less distinctive than they could be.

What does that mean? Let’s use a real-world example. Imagine that you promise to deliver a helpful and personalized experience to customers. You say you want customers to feel recognized, respected, and welcome. You pledge to do whatever it takes to make customers happy.

But let’s also imagine that your customer-facing practices undercut this promise. You measure call lengths and incentivize employees keep calls short. What happens then? Instead of the attentive service you promise, you rush customers off the phone leaving them feeling shortchanged.

You can use your journey map to spot these mismatches. And you can point to your journey map to keep your business accountable to your brand promise while keeping customer needs at the forefront.

Keeping Your CJM Momentum Alive

It feels inspiring to pull together your first customer journey workshop and design your journey map, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, some companies believe the CJM process ends there. They go back to the day to day and leave the journey map to gather dust on a wall.

Successful CJM requires an ongoing commitment. Your CJM isn’t just an attractive visual, it’s an asset that reveals essential insights about your business. Use it to uncover and address hidden customer pain points. Look for disconnects between your brand promise and the service you deliver. And actively update your journey map as shifts occur in your business. That can mean regular, small refinements and annual revisions.

Yes, staying on top of your journey map can feel like a lot of work at times, but it’s the only way to make sure it stays relevant to current customer perceptions.

If you truly care about customer delight, the ongoing effort you put into customer journey mapping will pay off. You’ll deepen awareness of customers’ needs, and you’ll stay focused on what it feels like to engage with your company from the outside-in.

And that will enhance customer trust, loyalty, and happiness.

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