Customer journey mapping (CJM) has risen to the top of the agenda for those on the front line of customer experience. The concept of mapping how customers move through different touchpoints of a business is not new, and has, in different guises (mainly under the umbrella of marketing), been around for a number of years.

The difference is that today, an increasing number of organisations are beginning to understand the role that CJM can play at a strategic level, spanning multiple business disciplines. In the rush to embrace this ‘new’ concept, however, many are missing the intricacies of customer journey mapping and failing to make the most of its ability to act as the bedrock of an effective Voice of the Customer programme.

As with any strategic business project, customer journey mapping needs the buy in of your senior management to generate the necessary time and resource dedicated to it. What’s more, it must be considered a key part of your organisation’s wider corporate objectives – tying sales, marketing and product management together – to be successful.

A true customer journey map is a framework that encompasses your entire business, demonstrating how each area or department impacts the customer. It therefore needs to go to the ‘grass roots’ level, clarifying what your customers are trying to achieve, how your offering helps them do this, and the steps they take to reach their goal.

It would seem to go without saying, then, that your first step towards CJM is to define a clear set of objectives, but you would be surprised how often this critical stage is overlooked. Before you begin, consider what value the process of journey mapping is going to deliver to your organisation as a whole, and what changes you are expecting it to bring about in order to increase focus on the experience your customers have.

Are you, for example, seeking to identify the channels that are under performing? Or are you trying to drive employee engagement to deliver better customer service? Are you looking to consolidate or broaden your product set? Or move into new markets? Whatever your objectives may be, without measurable aims, your first foray into customer journey mapping is likely to be short and unsuccessful.

At this objective-setting stage, it is vital that you bring together stakeholders from across your business, at all levels. Not only is it impossible to create your map without a holistic view of your organisation, but involvement at this stage also ensures everyone appreciates how their role or department impacts customer experience. Front line staff in particular hold a wealth of customer knowledge that back office staff simply won’t have, while areas such as finance or distribution will be able to provide a much clearer view of the processes that customers go through across your organisation.

As well as your team of stakeholders from across the company, it is also critical that all staff across your business understand what you’re doing and why. All employees should understand that they have an impact on the customer journey, directly or indirectly, and that they play a part in one or more of your key touchpoints.

If you’ve taken these first strategic steps to CJM correctly, it should be immediately clear that your map needs to cover much more than a simple list of your sales and service channels. It also needs to take into account the different shapes and sizes that your customers come in. By creating buyer personas, you can map the journey each type of buyer is likely to take through your business much more accurately. This ensures, too, that you map EVERY touchpoint throughout your business, even if individual customers are unlikely to touch them all.

At the same time, however, you must remember that from your customers’ perspective, your brand is a single entity. They are not concerned with the fact that your web site may be handled by a different set of people – or a different office, region or continent – to those running your call centre, your distribution channels or your retail outlets.

As you build your map, you must consider the different combinations of touchpoints that your customers go through, and consider how well you deliver your brand experience across all of them. You also need to look at what it is your customers are actually trying to achieve at each touchpoint and what external factors may be influencing them at that moment. This will help you to define the circumstances that your customers are likely to be facing at each touchpoint, and therefore make their experience at that point more targeted, more engaging – and ultimately more successful.

Of course, external factors are often beyond your control. They do, however, still affect the overall experience your customers have, and how they feel about your organisation. When you build your map, make a note of the factors that have the potential to affect your key touchpoints (internet connection speeds for your online retail outlet, for example, or out-of-hours availability for those contacting your call centre from overseas). In some cases you may be able to build strategies to mitigate against them.

It is here, in particular, that ongoing review of your journey map can add most value. It may not need changing all the time, but it is an evolving document that must take into account a constantly changing environment – both internal AND external, that affects your business. A new retail store or a change of supplier can have a dramatic impact on your map and the journey customers take through specific touchpoints, so without continuous review your map quickly becomes obsolete.

Ultimately, your customer journey map should be seen as a fundamental part of your wider Voice of the Customer programme. It is not a one-off exercise but a constantly evolving, ever-improving process that delivers a clear understanding of where and how you should be capturing feedback, and ensures the feedback you do gather is tightly linked to real customer experience. This enables you to pinpoint the root cause of any issues effectively and take action quickly where you need to – ensuring the Voice of the Customer is indeed a strategic part of your business that drives positive, tangible and measureable change.

Claire Sporton has specialised in customer feedback for over 15 years, and has run programmes in the Financial Services sector, and more recently with technology and consulting providers to improve their customer experience. Claire’s focus at Confirmit is on ensuring Confirmit customers can deliver feedback to the people who can make a difference to the end customer and generate ROI.

Claire was instrumental in the development of Confirmit Voices, a customer engagement model which provides an end to end approach to the Voice of the Customer.

Customer Journey Mapping: The Foundation of Strategic Customer Experience ProgrammesClaire Sporton
VP Customer Experience Management, Confirmit
Claire Sporton has specialised in customer feedback for over 15 years, and has run programmes in the Financial Services sector, and more recently with technology and consulting providers to improve their customer experience. Claire’s focus at Confirmit is on ensuring Confirmit customers can deliver feedback to the people who can make a difference to the end customer and generate ROI.

Claire was instrumental in the development of Confirmit Voices, a customer engagement model which provides an end to end approach to the Voice of the Customer.

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