Regardless of where you work or how long you have been with a company, most of us have experienced a situation where we discover that some process or approach to doing business has “always been done that way.” How organizations handle the customer experience, following up with customer concerns, and fixing customer problems often fall into the category of long-held practices. In many instances, these practices remain consistently in place and are not questioned. This is especially true if a company is doing well financially and seems to be handling customers well based on Voice of the Customer (VOC) data. However, sometimes customer experience practices are called into question when a company comes under new management or when a company’s VOC data indicate challenges with satisfying and retaining customers.

Whatever your company’s situation regarding your customer experience, whether your company is doing well or has major challenges, customer journey mapping can be an extremely productive exercise. There are three major reasons for this belief. First is the power that journey mapping can have for increasing empathy for what customers go through during their journeys. Second, is the large amount of understanding of the important details of the journey gained from a journey mapping process. Third, because customer journey mapping does much to promote a customer-centric perspective, which we know to positively impact key business metrics, and thus journey mapping makes good financial sense as well.

The Power of Empathy

We are all familiar with the saying that you shouldn’t judge people until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. In this saying, the walk is the mechanism through which we begin to understand what someone else goes through. Given the centrality of empathy in producing and maintaining a customer-centric organization, it is important to promote it and customer journey mapping does this.

Undertaking a customer journey mapping exercise forces members of your organization to reflect seriously on all of the details of the journey its customers go through. Early in the process, an all-day workshop should be held where employees involved in different aspects of the customer experience, including those who cover an organization’s entire customer experience landscape, come together to work out in detail a map of how the journey unfolds for customers. They need to put themselves in the role of the customer when they are doing this. In completing the process, participants are forced to confront the challenges and frustrations that customers go through. This process typically increases empathy with customers.

The workshop also promotes empathy of another and also very powerful kind. Group work that is done in the workshop needs to ensure that members of the organization who do not typically interact with one another on a regular basis are assigned to the same groups. Generally, this promotes deeper learning about an organization’s customer experience because participants learn about aspects of the customer experience of which they are not aware. This results in greater empathy for customers, but also promotes a shared sense of the customer experience, which is essential to delivering the best experience to your customers.

Detailed Learnings from Customer Journey Mapping

The very exercise of bringing employees together for a customer journey mapping workshop forces them to really take a long hard look at how their customers’ journey with them operates. In doing so, it requires employees to take note of challenges customers may be experiencing in the journey and this generally stimulates thinking about how a company might make changes in how it undertakes its customer experience.

For anyone who participates in a journey mapping workshop a key takeaway is how much information, such as qualitative and quantitative studies of an organization’s customers, is obtained. Consider a journey with seven steps, with three sub-steps each. For each of the stages, participants examine customers’ perception of step duration, their expectations, and their objectives for the stage. Within each sub-step, touch points, pain points, and satisfiers are examined. Then participants vote on where they think the largest customer experience problems lie within the organization. In short a great deal of information is obtained which in turn can be used for:

  • Updating questionnaires used in VOC programs to include measures of aspects of the customer experience which are important, but which were not being previously evaluated.
  • Taking action in those areas where the customer experience appears to provide the most complicated problems for the company. The information from a journey mapping engagement can provide important thought starters about what stages or sub-stages of the customer experience are ripest for change.

Customer Centricity Pays Off

I have argued how a customer journey mapping engagement promotes customer-centric thinking and behavior within organization by increasing empathy for and knowledge of the experience which an organization goes through. This in and of itself is a positive thing, but, in addition it results in better financial outcomes for a company as well.

The MaritzCX CXEvolution model posits that as companies mature in the level of customer experience their organizations begin to design customer experiences that are increasingly customer centric. A customer journey mapping engagement serves as catalyst for movement up to higher stages of customer experience evolution because of the empathy and knowledge it uncovers.

The good news is that fostering customer centricity pays off. In our ongoing study of CXEvolution, we have demonstrated the dramatic increases that can occur as companies move up in their customer experience maturity. As the chart below indicates, organizations at the highest stage of CXEvolution are three times more successful in achieving significant year-over-year business improvement than those in the bottom three stages.

Picture of CXEvolution Maturity Model

Open New Vistas Within Your Company

By looking at the journey from the customer’s perspective, employees at a company are likely to gain a great deal of insight about what your customers want and need. Customer journey mapping opens new vistas by promoting greater empathy and understanding of the customer’s journey with your company. As a company takes action on these insights, they will increase their opportunity for evolving and producing a stronger customer experience.