Part Two will help you identify the journeys that matter to customers, while Part Three will provide a tactical guide for creating them. 

Part One focused on holistically improving the customer experience through customer journey mapping.

I am a child of the 80’s, at least the pre-adolescent portion. Most boys during that decade will remember being glued to a console TV watching G.I. Joe, which closed each cartoon with a cheesy morality tale and public service announcement ending in “Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.” What can marketing leaders take away from this piece of childhood nostalgia? When it comes to defining customer experience, it’s important to know which journeys matter most to your customers before redesigning them to maximize value by improving that experience. Sage wisdom from a line of Hasbro action figures.

Identifying the Journeys that Matter Most

How do you determine which journeys matter most in defining the customer experience? I understand the gut-wrenching response this may elicit in those reading. After all, the answer requires knowing where to invest time and money in research and innovation, and, more importantly, where “just doing it” is not only good enough but necessary.

While this task may seem Herculean in nature, take solace in the company you keep. According to Forrester, 63% of marketers in the U.S. use some form of journey mapping. However, the same study indicates only 5% have a holistic view of these journeys. Here are three straightforward steps to ensure your brand joins this exclusive club.

Quickly define the journeys and decide on one or two to focus on first, even if it’s imperfect.

Don’t overthink it, particularly if this is your first foray into designing customer experience.
Don’t wait for detailed research. Identifying the journeys that are most relevant to your customers requires quality thought, but little precision. Quickly prioritize a list of journeys based upon their potential impact, ranging from short-term wins to building enduring momentum. Don’t reach for perfection. Marry quality thinking to evidence sufficient enough to define a journey’s beginning and end broadly rather than narrowly.

Design research to identify and optimize what matters within each journey.
This step will take you another level deeper, even as it extends your brand’s understanding of all the journeys by linking the voice of the customer (VOC) to the drivers of performance. This is where precise research design makes the difference between interesting insights and those that actually drive improvement.

Quantify your understanding of what drives customer experience and behavior by designing research to quantify VOC. Rank the relative importance of each journey in determining customer preference for your company or brand. Emotional or intangible factors typically float to the top, with price, product, and service following.

Finally, identify customer behaviors that impact cost and revenue. Discover how dissatisfaction elicits expensive behavior such as calls to customer service, reduced cross-selling opportunities, and, even worse, customer churn. Creating this type of insight requires linking survey results to operational data.

Roll up your sleeves to create an end-to-end vision.
Data-driven approaches are potent and effective, but spending time in call centers, shadowing sales teams, or shopping retail stores allows marketers to map customer journeys end to end; uncovering opportunities and problems that research and operational data miss. Armed with a frontline map linked to VOC and operational data, your brand can prioritize those customer experience initiatives that move the needle on satisfaction and impact the bottom line directly.

Now You Know

If “knowing is half the battle” and your brand now has a firm grasp on the journeys that truly matter to your customers, then what makes up the remaining portion of this Saturday morning equation? The ability to discern the pitfalls along the way. Not adhering to these key principles of customer journey mapping gives rise to a number of challenges for brands. There are three crucial elements brands need to get right to ensure success.

  1. Cross-business engagement – one of the most common pitfalls is for brands without a single customer journey framework to have a tendency for different functions to develop journeys in isolation. This inadvertently creates an inconsistent customer experience.
  2. Customer centricity – brands risk delivering an experience that does not fundamentally deliver against customer needs if they fail to start with the customer’s perspective. It’s vital that it is grounded in genuine customer needs and VOC.
  3. Looking at the end-to-end journey – by only focusing on individual stages along the journey it can often make it difficult to establish the root cause of pain points for the customer.

The world’s best performing brands put customer journey mapping at the core of their customer experience strategies, enabling them to tailor their marketing content around the customer, as opposed to “fitting” their customers around the brand. It’s important to note journey mapping is not a one-off process but an iterative cycle without end. Successful brands recognize that journey maps are essentially works-in-progress that are never finished, but are continually refined to lead the process of change, acknowledging the evolving needs of customers along their end-to-end journey.

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