Part One will focus solely on holistically improving the customer experience through customer journey mapping. Parts Two and Three will provide a tactical outline and roadmap for creating customer journey maps and personas.
A reliance on constantly evolving technology is playing an increasingly-important role in the world of customer experience (CX) management. Consumers are savvier than ever before, researching before they buy, recommending products to friends, and rating their experiences and product satisfaction after they make a purchase, particularly as it’s shared on social media channels. They are continually seeking new ways of doing things, and if your brand wants to reach them, you need to adapt your CX strategy to keep up with ever-changing customer expectations. Candidly, it’s a difficult challenge and few brands have done it well.
Competing in a Digital Future
If human interaction is what drives emotionally meaningful customer experiences, how do we compete in a digital future? We have reached an inflection point on the curve of CX improvement where the baton is passed from human to digital interaction. There is understandable apprehension among many brands in committing the investment (financial and time) necessary to create great CX, but the ROI in its application speaks for itself. Simply put, providing great customer experience pays off. People who have the best customer experiences spend on average 140% more money than those who’ve had the worst experiences. Not only that, but people who’ve had positive experiences will likely remain customers for five years longer than those with negative experiences. Overall, delivering great experiences reduces the cost for brands to serve customers by as much as 33 percent (Harvard Business Review).
Research shows that 89 percent of market leaders expect to compete primarily on the basis of CX – a number that has jumped from 36 percent four years ago (Deloitte). As more companies realize the benefits of engaging with their customers along every touchpoint, customers are growing accustomed to top-of-the-line experiences. Modern consumers expect a tailored experience— one with flexible purchasing options, painless technology integrations, and ample opportunities to provide feedback if they receive stellar or sub-par products or services.
Contextual Engagement Mirrors Customer Experience
Central to CX, particularly customer personalization, is context. Increasingly, it is about being relevant and present in the customer’s life – not just pushing the brand’s story and not prior to a sale. Personalization plays to a customer’s sense of self-worth. At one level, this is about being made to feel valued and important. At another level, it is about shared values and brand personality. It requires understanding how organizations play a role in the customer’s personal brand. The brand experience, digital or human, must amplify and reflect self-perception.
Modern consumers have a low tolerance for error and will not suffer a poor experience kindly, so it is important that the content that is delivered is accurate, timely, and in the right place, whether on an app or on a social media network. Moreover, most consumers expect CX to be the same regardless of what channel it is delivered on. It is then crucial for your brand to be consistent in the delivery of its content and services. The channel itself doesn’t matter, so long as the information is available to them, and it is on-tap at all times.
Create a Customer-Centric Culture
Customer journey mapping is one of the most important elements of CX management. These maps provide the framework that enables a brand to look at CX holistically through one lens and create a customer-centric culture for change. Allowing everyone across the brand to understand exactly what the “as is” experience looks like today, establish how the journey should be re-designed in line with customer needs, and their role in creating superior CX.
Traditionally, customer journey maps offer a visual representation of the ‘journey’ a customer undertakes during their interaction with a brand or service. After its inception, a map can find new life in the form of dashboards, wall charts, and briefing packs, but initially these maps begin life as an holistic list of key customer touchpoints, at each stage of the end-to-end journey. The most successful brands treat their maps as works-in-progress documents often forming a CX working group, comprising of champions from different areas of the business, to lead the process of change ensuring it ties back to the customers’ needs at each touchpoint along the journey.
There are a number of benefits to the customer journey mapping process:
- It enables brands to walk in their customers’ shoes. By moving through the various touchpoints in the customer journey, the brand is afforded a first-person view of every interaction, from first contact through to final resolution. This practice flags any emotional highs and lows and highlights the “moments of truth” that are most likely to lead to success or failure from the customer’s perspective.
- A customer journey map can breathe life into these interactions – It can help employees to see customers as real people with real emotions, and thus guide them towards the most practical and tactful way of delivering the customers’ desired experience. As such, a greater sense of empathy is created, something which is essential for CX excellence.
- A customer journey map can create a common language to unite isolated departments and individuals, and deliver a shared goal through its simplified overview of CX. It can inspire ideas for improvement. When a brand has a visual impression of its own strengths and weaknesses, employees are able to come together and examine these touchpoints as a single unit, with a clear vision of how to turn a good experience into an exceptional one.
To do this, a new set of skills is required, focused on identifying future trends, sifting them for relevance and rapidly developing these ideas for integration. This has required CX and digital leaders to adopt a new, more integrated organizational lens. Digital is no longer a technology-based island, a walled department or function, but rather a central driver of enterprise-wide plans and strategies. Its focus? Engineering a human touch into a digital future.