Customer journey maps are all the rage. Everyone’s doing it. And there are a wide variety of methods for collecting information and templates for displaying it. But what are “best practices”? Is anything missing in the most popular methods and templates? And maybe most importantly, what’s next — what do we DO after creating these attractive displays?
In this 3-part series, we’ll look at 3 keys to getting it right: focus on the customers’ experience journey, map for actionability, and apply insights everywhere. This post takes on the first key:
Focus on the Customers’ Experience Journey: In our pursuit of outside-in insights, it’s ironic that many approaches are still inside-out.
DO THIS: Ask customers about their end-to-end experience regarding the solutions in your category.
- Help them be concise yet comprehensive by providing visual aids that help them tell you their story. This delves into their subconscious to reveal things they’d otherwise leave out.
- Do broad-brush research: what initiates the customers’ quest through what is their view of the quest ceasing. This provides context: the initiating situation may explain the overall positive- or negative-leaning expectation set of various customers in their experience journey.
- Capture the customers’ actual experience: not a series of steps, and not a series of ratings about your company’s performance! Is that representative of YOUR experience in what you buy? Acknowledge that there are a lot of things behind-the-scenes that customers think about and consult, and it’s an incomplete journey map until you’ve discovered those aspects of the customer’s experience.
- For B2B in particular, find out who cares about what and why for each step of the customer experience journey. The answers to “why” (consequences) have awesome contextual and motivational value for your organization. This will empower your company to be more proactive about retention and repurchase (loyalty and lifetime value).
- Conduct your research with an eye toward “so what?” Prevent waste of customers’ time and your time by setting up your organization for success in aligning what they do to what customers are trying to do. You might invite various job roles to participate on your research team by taking notes or manning the video camera, etc.
NOT THAT: Avoid (a) building-in silos or (b) inside-out thinking or (c) talking about your company.
- We think it’s pragmatic to do narrow our journey map research to a single touch-point or process. By doing so, we’re short-circuiting the customers’ perspective. Yes, a single area may be an Achilles’ heel, but you’ll be missing out on contextual value when you start with a narrow view of customer experience in place of the end-to-end customer experience, as customers see it.
- We think it’s pragmatic to collect internal insights about the customer experience and then validate or tweak those insights with customers. By doing so, we may be tainting the whole effort. Yes, it’s powerful to compare and contrast internal thinking with external thinking, but if time and effort are at a premium, why not go directly to THE expert on the matter: customers? A better way to streamline the data collection process is to review existing customer comments, especially customer-initiated VoC, to make an initial rough sketch of the customer experience journey, which can be validated or tweaked through direct customer interviews.
- We think the customers’ experience is about touchpoints with our company, but that’s just one of many aspects of a customers’ experience! By failing to first understand the customer’s steps and thinking from the initiating situation for their intended purchase, regardless of what brand they eventually settle on, we’re losing a lot of valuable insights for influencing and helping customers better than our competitors can.
Customer journey maps are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. They are one of many alternatives you can select to understand your customers’ world. The purpose of understanding your customers’ world is to become their preferred source toward achieving the capabilities they’re seeking. That’s what creates a revenue machine with strong profit growth. Remember that popular practice does not necessarily imply best practice. A sensible approach to customer experience journey mapping is what’s needed for sustained customer experience ROI.
- Customer Journey Mapping is part of VoC, Customer Insight & Understanding, which is one of the six domains in the body of knowledge advocated by the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA). (ClearAction offers a CCXP Exam Prep Course.)
- The concept of “Do This, Not That” is borrowed from the popular book “Eat This, Not That“, where the weaknesses of common practices and myths are brought to light and sensible replacements are recommended. (For assistance with CX journey mapping methodology or actionability, see https://clearaction.com/customer-experience-journey-mapping/).