Looking back over the last few years, Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) has risen as one of the latest ‘trends’, with businesses becoming increasingly interested in their own journeys – 86% of senior-level marketers now say that it is ‘absolutely critical or very important’ to create a cohesive customer journey.
With new ways for customers to touch brands continuing to emerge, sources of data continually expanding, and consumer expectations rising, CJM will be fundamental in enabling businesses to continue on their path to being truly customer-centric throughout 2017 – and beyond.
For CJM to be embedded within a business and achieve its true potential, there are a number of factors that will be critical to successful implementation:
#1 A universal customer experience (CX) strategy
Beyond the fact that CJM continues to be a ‘hot topic,’ why the interest from businesses in their own customer journeys? The ideal answer to this question is that CJM has been identified as a key ‘tool’ required to execute a clearly defined Customer Experience (CX) strategy – a strategy that has gained buy-in from stakeholders and employees across all levels of the business, and is directly linked to the overall business strategy. In our experience, the success of CJM initiatives ride on the level of investment in this upfront work. A good, solid CX strategy outlines:
- The overall experience that the brand wants to deliver to its customers – articulated by a clear CX vision, priorities, and customer-centric measures of success
- How the brand will deliver its vision to customers – a set of CX design principles which act as a framework to drive consistency across all journeys and channels and are grounded in how customers want to feel about their experiences with a brand
- What customers can achieve with the brand – a customer journey framework with journeys defined from a customer perspective, based on customer goals or the ‘jobs’ that customers are trying to get done
Getting the CX strategy right positively impacts the bottom line – 73% of marketing leaders say adopting a customer journey strategy achieves revenue growth.
#2 Customer journey management
Although it means time and investment – in cross-functional teams with journey owners and dedicated resource – creating a customer journey management structure is the best way of ensuring CJM drives change. ’This structure also brings about consequential benefits that will aid a business on its path to customer-centricity, including:
- A shift in mind-set – once journeys have been defined from a customer perspective, mirroring the way that your customers see you as an organisation should result in the business thinking and feeling like a customer, rather than by the way the business operates (in terms of products, channels, processes and systems)
- Collaborative working – cross-functional journey teams (that include frontline representation) cut across siloes, pooling expertise and encouraging knowledge sharing in pursuit of shared actions
- Cohesive thinking – decision making at all levels geared towards delivering against customer needs, rather than individual agendas
#3 Emotional profiling of customers – segmentations and personas
Winning at CX is about building emotional connections with customers. We see personas used extensively in CJM and experience design as a way of understanding customer types and thinking more ‘emotionally’ about:
- Customers’ wants and needs – building a deeper, more empathetic understanding of the customer
- Customer experience – which journeys each customer segment is likely to experience
- Personalisation – how to better ‘connect’ with customers and tailor the experience at the moments that matter to them most
The risk is, however, that developing personas is often an isolated exercise for the purpose of a CJM project – to form yet another version of customer segments or ‘types,’ which are often different to what the insight team holds, and different again to what the digital team uses.
This is where the ‘reignition’ of segmentation needs to happen – utilising the wealth of data within a business so that ‘segmentations of the future’ not only include demographics and history with the brand, but also knowledge of customers’ wants, needs, and desired experiences. By combining historical and predictive data in this way, brands will be able to build a more emotional profile of their customers that, in turn, will enable greater personalisation of the customer experience.
#4 Primary customer (and employee) research
At the point of embarking on a CJM programme, we are often faced with the challenge of ‘convincing’ clients that such an exercise should be informed by primary customer and employee insight. Whilst businesses often hold a huge amount of existing insight, and this is often invaluable, the benefits to making primary research (qual and /or quant) a key step in the process should not be underestimated:
- For providing the full picture – existing insight often only covers the parts of an experience that the business is directly involved in, rather than the end-to-end experience as the customer sees it – the end-to-end often highlights unaccounted for drop offs, missed opportunities, the cumulative impact of touchpoints and the true impact of key ‘moments of truth’ (both positive and negative), to list a few
- For buy-in and alignment – making sure everyone is aligned and bought in to the ‘as is’ journey as a platform to move forwards from
- For closing the gap between internal and customer – to go through process of establishing the gaps between internal and customer view – this is a hugely valuable exercise to facilitate between a cross-functional journey group
- For generating customer-led solutions – without primary customer insight we can only assume how and why customers are impacted in certain ways and what the ‘fixes’ or future design solutions should be
#5 Connected insight and data
Lastly, but most critically, to realise the true benefit of customer journey mapping, it must be the tool that creates the framework to connect all sources of insight and data, providing a single view of the customer experience and a way of managing the CX.
Initially, the challenge is often the number and variation of sources and types of data that a business holds and/or the way it is often held (in siloes) – resulting in a business not always knowing what it holds or even sometimes holding it ‘secretly.’
Using CJM to connect insight and data will mean that the customer journey cannot be mapped overnight – it requires an iterative process, with buy-in to the customer agenda across the journey team, with the time and dedication to audit the journey, using data and insight to…
Map the ‘as is’ journey initially…
- Validate and understand the extent of the issues raised through primary research / existing insight
- Establish the root cause of an experience and the ability to address
- Create the business case for change – through linking the customer journey directly to backstage operations and processes
Manage, measure and re-design the journey on an ongoing basis…
- Review how we get the right / relevant sources feeding in to the journey on an on-going basis to inform the correct customer picture on an ongoing basis
- Establish where there are gaps and where we need to start using data to inform
- Set the baseline, manage the customer experience and measure the impact
We believe customer journey mapping should be a way of life for a business – used as a tool to connect a business around the customer and a way to successfully differentiate through the customer experience.