Customer journey mapping is a popular topic these days and for good reason, considering ever-increasing customer expectations, the many ways customers interact with companies, and a growing competitive landscape among brands.

Conducting a mapping project can be a powerful tool to understand the customer’s end-to-end experience in a personal and immersive way. However, like any tool or exercise, it’s important to remember the ultimate goal – to improve key metrics such as revenue, quality, service, satisfaction, costs and, ultimately, profitability. With that in mind, let’s review three key components to ensure your customer journey mapping project can lead to increased profits.

Use data to make the path clear

The first key component is data gathering and analysis to create the plan for your customer journey mapping project. This data includes many items such as historical, current, and forecasted revenue by product or service as a percentage of total revenue; volumes of transactions of various sorts; customer satisfaction data; current persona models; intended process maps; and key outcome metric performance.

Often this step is overlooked by organisations. Stakeholders may come to the project with existing ideas about which part of the journey they want to map or which persona should be the focus. Therefore, it is critical to step back and first analyse your existing information. From this, you may discover a more critical journey that needs to be mapped first. Or, you may find a journey that has a bigger impact on the Customer Experience or your company’s bottom line.

Always start by analysing your customer data to ensure the journey you are going to map is one that will lead to results that are the most beneficial to your company or your customer.

Put aside your assumptions

When conducting a customer journey mapping project, organisations often struggle with putting themselves in the customer’s shoes. Employees can become so entrenched in their company culture that it can be difficult to leave behind the corporate myths, legends, and assumptions when evaluating the Customer Experience.

For example, my firm, COPC Inc., recently conducted a customer journey mapping project for a telecommunications company. They wanted to understand why customers were not buying more items in their retail stores. As part of the project, we mapped the retail purchase by going into stores and not only observing customers but acting as customers.

At the start of the assignment, the client had made various assumptions based on demographics about why customers were not buying certain items and why the retail stores were not selling those items. The project team included different demographics, and we each attempted to view and buy accessories.  After several attempts, none of the store personnel offered to help any COPC Inc. team member, regardless of demographic.

The reality was that the store and management simply were not focused on selling accessories. This was a management and focus issue, not a customer demographic issue. By fixing this fairly simple issue, the telecommunications company not only improved the Customer Experience within their retail locations, but increased revenue.

To truly see and map the customer journey from the customer’s perspective, you must remove all assumptions about that experience. If you think your team is too entrenched in your corporate culture, consider using an outside, independent resource to conduct your journey mapping project.

Take action on the things that matter

The most crucial part of your customer journey mapping project is actually not part of the mapping itself – it’s what comes after the exercise is done. Sometimes companies make the mistake of thinking that just by mapping the customer journey things will automatically improve. The truth is that once your customer journey mapping project is complete, your work has only just begun. A mapping project will only provide you information – accurate, customer-driven information. The crucial step is what you do with that information.

For our clients, we create a plan called ‘Actions That Matter’. We look at which part of the customer journey – if improved – will then lead to improvements that matter the most in areas such as customer satisfaction, customer effort, or revenue. We put together a specific action plan to improve those targeted parts of the journey. Often, these improvements are recommended changes in corporate processes, policies, or customer communications. Sometimes a simple fix can bring big results; other times, a series of fixes is needed.

There is, of course, much more involved in a successful customer journey mapping project, but the above three components are critical to improving the Customer Experience and your bottom line.

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