Plotting the Customer Journey to Keep a Promise

Today’s post is by guest blogger Annette Franz; her post is a modification of one that appeared on CX JourneyTM on November 29, 2011.

It’s a known fact: journey mapping plays a crucial role in defining your overall customer experience strategy.

So, where do we begin? Let’s go back to your brand promise. Recall that the brand promise is the expectation that you set about your brand with your customers. Each of your touchpoints reinforces and fulfills the brand’s promise. Creating a journey map forces you to consider or visualize the experience at each touchpoint – and ultimately, it identifies where the brand promise has been broken.

Before you begin to create your journey map, you must first identify and understand who your customers are. What jobs are they trying to do or needs are they trying to fulfill when interacting with your company? Do you cater differently to different types of customers? Do different customer types have different interactions or touchpoints with your organization? Will the map look different for different customers?

Next, identify the stages of your customer lifecycle. Start not with the purchase, but long before that – when you’re just barely a thought in the customer’s mind. End with the customer’s exit or cancellation; remember that, even when a customer cancels your services or terminates usage of your product, it is an important interaction to do well.

Then, think about the touchpoints within each stage of the customer lifecycle. A touchpoint is generally thought of as any point the customer touches the company, e.g., call center, sales call, packaging, etc. Interactions are what happen at those touchpoints.

Select a specific job that a customer is trying to do, e.g., get an issue resolved. Think about all of the steps that the customer must take in order to resolve that issue. Perhaps he went to the website and searched your support documentation. Didn’t find anything there? He called customer service. First call didn’t solve the problem? He called again. Keep asking, “What happened next?”

Think about identifying the following for each step along the journey. Lay out the map in such a way that you identify which of these are customer-facing and which are behind-the-scenes.

• what the customer’s expectations are for the touchpoint, what he is trying to achieve
• what steps the customer takes to achieve what he’s trying to do
• which specific interactions occur at that touchpoint
• what the ideal customer experience ought to be
• what the customer’s painpoints are when trying to achieve his desired outcome
• what feedback you’ve received about interactions with the touchpoint
• which channels the customer has used/can use to achieve the desired outcome
• which processes support that interaction
• which people support those processes
• who owns the touchpoint and its related interactions and processes
• who the customer interacts with
• what the specific outcome for that touchpoint should be
• which tools are used during the interaction at the touchpoint
• what customer data are gathered at the touchpoint
• which metrics are tracked at/about the touchpoint

Note that some steps aren’t touchpoints; some of the journey occurs between the touchpoints, and those steps are important to consider, as well.

From a practitioner’s viewpoint, the map clearly helps you understand how, when, where, and with whom interactions occur; it’s important to do this exercise prior to designing surveys, as you’ll identify key moments of truth for which you’ll likely need to gather feedback and identify gaps. With all the details that you’ll include in the map, you’ll also be better able to identify other customer and operational data that you’ll want to pull into the initiative in order to make your surveys, analysis, and action planning more relevant, personalized, and actionable. It might also identify other customer feedback inputs besides surveys (e.g., online communities, tech support forums, support calls, etc.) that should be tied back to the survey data for that touchpoint.

The journey map is important to introduce as you roll out the CX strategy to the larger organization. It can help various departments and business units understand the customer experience while helping to break down silos and pull the organization together to work toward one common goal: focusing on the customer in order to deliver a superior customer experience.

Start with the brand promise, understand who your customers are and what they are trying to achieve, identify touchpoints and interactions, determine which are most important/influential (not all touchpoints are created equal), validate with customers, outline the optimal experience (from the customer’s perspective), and rally the organization to deliver it!

If you’re looking for a great tool to streamline and simplify your customer journey mapping exercise, check out Touchpoint Dashboard. I think you’ll be impressed by how powerful this tool is.