Customer journeys and the new experience ecosystem

Six steps to build a brand, enable loyalty, and drive key business results

Over the past two years, we’ve seen disruption and tremendous changes in how customers interact with organizations. Brands are now digital-first and customer experiences are shared regularly. While most organizations clearly articulate their customer-first mission, being truly customer-centric across the organization and investing in the business agility required to meet and exceed the expectations of customers is a very different proposition. Many organizations struggle with what it takes to “Make Great CX Happen” inside their enterprise. In this article, we explore the steps required to establish the customer journey maps that will deliver the elements for a business to succussed.

What is customer journey mapping?

A customer journey map is an outside-in blueprint of customer engagement—based on customer perceptions of the organization—that bookmarks essential touchpoints where proactive intervention will positively impact the outcomes business is trying to achieve. A well-constructed journey map will clarify the touchpoints for specific audience segments based on key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with each specific experience.

Unfortunately, most organizations become paralyzed at the prospect of mapping these journeys, as there are often an overwhelming number of possible journeys to consider and experiences to map. And, with customers in full control of the process, identifying the exact interventions that will lead to the desired outcome is no easy task. That’s why Gartner reports that “over 70% of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results.”

So, how can an organization overcome the sheer enormity of this assignment and craft customer journey maps that differentiate the brand, build loyalty and achieve results?

Using a tested framework can improve outcomes

First, you want to consider a journey mapping framework that has proven to bring order to the chaos. To make it work, you’ll need a cross-functional team of business, finance, IT, customer service, sales, and other champions familiar with customer transactions, issues, and desires to commit to the process. You’ll also need first-hand customer input in the way of qualitative and quantitative data on which to base your outside-in understanding of each specific customer journey.

Bear in mind that everyone in your experience ecosystem will be different, coming into the matrix with a wide range of cultural, socioeconomic, educational, technology, and connections differences. What’s more, customers are not the only ones who experience a journey within your organization. There are also employees, and sometimes partners who are essential to delivering great customer experiences.

For instance, a car manufacturer serves its end customers through a network of partner dealers, who have employees that interface with the end buyer. Each one has a specific journey to map. So, it is critical to take the exercise one step at a time. Consider the following six steps that will keep you on task:

  1. Journey prioritization: Start with one journey. What single journey, in your team’s consensus opinion, will have the greatest impact on your business now? Simply, pick the journey with the largest impact on your business and your key customers’ loyalty. Think in terms of KPIs, which reflect how you define success. At a bank, for instance, will improve your mortgage department’s approval process add more to the bottom line? Or will onboard new customers over the internet be your initial play? Then, within that, what personas carry the most weight? First-time homebuyers? Mover-uppers? Credit card customers? High-wealth individuals? Make a list, select your top priority and start there.
  2. Current state journey mapping: With your top priority in focus, deep-dive into their key, end-to-end, omnichannel journey experiences as they are today. Leverage your personal insights from recent, reliable data. Map out the experience, people, process, and technology touchpoints at every juncture in the process. This will establish a documented, single source of truth on which to align key stakeholders, drive improvements, and create better results.
  3. Future-state journey visioning: Now, envision how the journey can be improved. Where along the way can you better align your corporate objectives, business priorities, and customer insights to make the experience easier, faster, more compelling, and stickier? Where are the moments of truth? Envision the future state of the journey in all its detail and determine how you will validate the process with key users involved in the experience.
  4. Art of the Possible: Invite your team to dream. Imagine a day in the life of the customer (or partner or employee). What have you not thought of that can inject a breakthrough in customer delight, action, or outcome? No ideas are off the table. Stand back and watch the ideas bloom, as you develop a new and innovative journey destined to bring your future state—and outcomes—to life.
  5. Service design blueprint: With your mapping exercise complete, this document will serve as your front-to-back visualization of the persona’s journey, highlighting the action points along the way that make the greatest impact toward achieving those big KPIs you set out at the onset. Consider it a living document, open for scrutiny, and change wherever the KPIs fall short as you review and revise. As your experience with the journey progresses, make notes, revisit, and improve as necessary. You will be on your way to greater outcomes with each iteration.
  6. CX improvement roadmap: As your exercise continues to evolve, you will find opportunities across disciplines, technologies, and data sources to enrich the experience and reach higher ground. Test and learn. This is how good CX becomes great.

The best part about journey mapping is that there is no limit to what you can achieve once you start making great CX happen.

Authored by

Marko Z. Muellner serves as VP of Digital Experience Strategy at Concentrix Catalyst. He has focused on CX and digital transformation for over 25 years with expertise in strategy, marketing, omnichannel customer experience, data strategy, content strategy, and account management.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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