This is a given. However, getting to know your customer well is definitely challenging. It is a fact that mapping the end-to-end customer journey – together with defining relevant personas, touchpoints and top tasks – is a perfect way to help you build these insights. This overview can then be used to map expectations, challenges and pitfalls of each of these steps which can, in turn, be used as your areas of improvement. Using customer journey mapping as a way to really get to know your customer should be on your roadmap for the very near future. That aside, a lot of companies still struggle with Customer Journey Mapping.
To be very clear: every company should know how their customers interact with them.
Having said this, it is also true that customer journey mapping should never be something you do as an end-goal or a stand-alone project. There should be a vision on what to do with the outcome and a clear willingness to act. We strongly believe that every company will benefit from putting understanding their customer on their roadmap for the coming year as a vital part of their business strategy. Knowing your customer through-and-through will save you time and resources when developing new services, features, touchpoints, processes, etcetera, and, as such, it should be part of every discussion when you are considering moving into a new direction – no matter how small the change.
Mapping the customer journey is something you should never do as a stand-alone project.
Mapping the customer journey, describing the interactions with your customers and really getting to know them, should always be part of the bigger picture. It allows you to see the journey your customer goes on when interacting with you. It is a means to make the communication more personal, to take your conversation to the next level. Customer journey mapping should not be something you put a lot of effort in, only to let it disappear into a big black hole somewhere inside your company’s universe, never to be used as input for next steps…
So, if you want to start of a Customer Journey mapping project because it’s hip and fashionable, because everybody does it or because your boss asked you to do so without any follow up planned, please don’t bother! Then it is just a waste of time, money and resources and leads to a lot of frustration. Plus, it jeopardizes all future chances of doing it again, since you will keep on hearing ‘yeah, we did that once, did not work, will not do it again.’
If you want to start of a Customer Journey mapping project because it’s hip and fashionable, please don’t bother!
At least, not yet. Prepare it well, sit down and ask yourself and your company what you want to get out of it, what your goal is and why you really want to do this. Please also check if there is a willingness and budget to give it a follow up, because, don’t be mistaken, this is not something that is done in half a day, nor is it something you should do ‘on the side’.
Building personas, defining the full set of touchpoints and top tasks and then mapping them onto the entire customer journey for every persona, while highlighting the positive and negative experiences and pinpointing areas for improvement and personalization, is a lot of work. If you do it ‘on the side’, chances are you never complete the exercise, you risk that the journey you have described at the start is no longer relevant by the time you draw your conclusions and the improvements you want to achieve are never done.
You do need someone who can dedicate focus, time and resources to this project. You need a commitment from your management that the improvements that come out of this exercise will be prioritized and taken up into a development and personalization roadmap. You also need someone who can look at the customer journey from an outside in perspective, someone who can challenge the organization, pinpoint pain points, discover pitfalls and has sufficient seniority and no internal barriers to ask the right – and often delicate – questions.
You need someone who dares to challenge assumptions and ask the right questions.
Customer journey mapping is more than writing down the way it is, it should be focused on where it can be done better, what needs to change and what needs to be done to get to the ultimate – personal – interaction with your customers. If you don’t have this, if this mission is assigned to someone who just writes down the ‘as is’, without any questions asked, you will never get to the next level, you will not see where improvements need to be done and again, it will be a waste of effort.
Also, always involve stakeholders from all departments, including a major representation of all customer facing departments.
With all due respect, there are a lot of people who never come close to a customer, and they often do know a lot from the wide variety of surveys they undoubtably order and process into every detail, but only those who really interact with the customer on a regular basis can give the right input. So, once again, if you want to do this exercise only with a limited group of people who never have met a customer in the flesh or have spoken to them, don’t bother.
Having said that, if you know that you want to map the customer journey because you really want to get to know your customer and want to improve customer experience, but don’t have a fixed budget yet for the follow up, but do have the commitment that customer experience needs to improve and personalization needs to be set up, then do start. The output will convince your management to take the next steps. Only don’t do it if you feel like no one will ever listen to the outcome, if you just need to be able to say that you have done it, for the sake of doing it and to be able to put a nice poster on the wall no one will ever look at.
If you do this exercise only with a limited group of people who never have met a customer in the flesh or have spoken to them, don’t bother.
Don’t be mistaken though, I really am a big advocate of customer journey mapping! It is a necessity, it is something every company should do to be able to deliver their customers the perfect experience they deserve.
So, the big question remains: how can you do it?
- Decide why you really want to do it with focus on your customer
- Get buy-in from your management to start AND to continue
- Define who is responsible for the project and make sure this person has the (decision) power to do it
- Get an expert on board to support your project leader in the methodology and the execution
- Involve all necessary departments, especially the customer facing departments
- Explain why this is so important to all involved to get their full commitment
- Assign a budget and resources to every phase
- the Discovery phase, where you define personas, touchpoints, tasks and map the journey. If you do this right, the output of this phase will deliver you a list of issues that need to be fixed together with where you want to personalize the interaction with your customers
- the Improve Phase where you execute the described quick-win improvements that come out of this Discovery Phase and where you start to personalize
- the Perfection Phase where you execute the long-term improvements and go a bit further in personalization
- the Personalization Phase where you take the interactions with your customer to the next level and start a one-on-one communication. Something you can do now, because you really know your customer and there are no blocking technical issues anymore that prevent for a smooth customer experience.
This may seem like a lot and to be honest, it is, but there is no way around it: there is no easy and quick way to make all interactions with your customer perfect and personal. It takes effort and time, but when done right, it will be worth it.
And please don’t let this scare you off. You don’t have to do everything in one day. There are several phases in this type of project, to which you can attribute different budgets and even if you don’t have the budget yet today to do it all, please do start. Budget is nothing more than a detail when the focus and willingness to improve the customer experience and make it personal are present within the company.
Rest assured, there are experts – like Humix – who can help you to set this all up, to build the customer journeys, to challenge the organization and to draw up the roadmap and improvement list.
Budget is nothing more than a detail when the focus and willingness to improve the customer experience are present within the company
If the company believes in it, the opportunity to build the Customer Journey map, to highlight the needed improvements and by executing the described quick wins, prove that this methodology works, will be present! And once it works, this will become a self-sufficient machine that generates resources by improving the customer experiences, decreasing churn, lowering costs, improving customer value and by doing so, making room for new improvements, which in turn will lead to new resources, etcetera, etcetera…
If the powers that decide are convinced that this should be done and why this should be done, then there will be given sufficient room to work on this in a dedicated manner, be it via an internal resource or via a hired expert.
Don’t forget though, this work is never done. Customers evolve, processes evolve, the way you interact with your customers evolves, so don’t forget to regularly update your personas, your touchpoints, your personalization roadmap. And even though the work is never done, it is also super interesting, challenging, fun, rewarding and extremely profitable. Trust me, delivering the ultimate personal and perfect experience to your customers really is key to driving business revenue in the years to come!
Delivering the ultimate personal and perfect experience to your customers really is key!