We share the top five challenges clients report to us when attempting to improve their customer experience and how journey mapping can help.
This year, I’m reflecting on reaching a career milestone: 25 years in the Customer Experience (CX) industry. I stayed in the industry for so long, because I’m customer curious. I’m curious about why customers make the decisions they do, and I’m always interested in experimenting with new ways to deliver better experiences. To celebrate the occasion, I created a list of the top five reasons companies contact Centric Consulting with an interest in journey mapping.
I’m focusing on journey mapping because it’s one of the more versatile tools in the CX toolkit, providing broad or deep insights depending upon the context. Below I’ve created a list of the top five challenges Centric sees in journey maps. So, if you’re asking yourself some of these same questions, then journey mapping may be the right tool for you.
Top Five Journey Mapping Challenges
Most conversations begin with “we don’t,” so let me present these challenges the same way.
1. We don’t know which interactions are critical to our customers.
It’s true. Not every customer interaction makes a monumental impact. This fact doesn’t mean these interactions aren’t important. But, some carry more weight with customers than others. For example, Centric recently conducted a journey mapping project for an insurance carrier. Among the many important points of interaction with their agents, only four of these were “moments of truth.” Meaning, delivering positive or negative experiences on these four could drastically impact the overall agent-to-customer relationship. Armed with this type of insight, they can confidently make innovation and resource allocation decisions around the experience that will deliver the biggest bang for the buck.
2. We don’t have a good handle on what customers think about their experience with us.
Operational metrics don’t always provide the full picture. I had a manufacturing client repeatedly tell me their operational metrics indicated 99% of their deliveries were on time. But, when we asked customers about the timeliness of deliveries from this company, less than 50% shared a positive review. As it turns out, they measured their operational metric from the last commit date, and not the original customer requested delivery date. Every time a date changed, the stopwatch reset, so to speak. The data and analytics won’t always reflect what customers think. Sometimes, you must ask them.
3. We don’t know if our potential projects align with what our customers need from us.
How often have you held a project planning meeting when you haven’t talked to your customers in years? It may be hard to admit, but it’s true for more of us than not. Customer needs and expectations are not static. They’re influenced by what you say and do, by what your competitors say and do, and by other experiences unrelated to your industry. In Salesforce’s report, “State of the Connected Customer,” nearly 70% of customers indicated they switched vendors for a more consumer-like experience.
Businesses that have their finger on the pulse of customer needs can better respond with projects and initiatives that deliver a customer’s desired experience. While many of us think of journey mapping as a one-time project, we should view it as an ongoing process used to stay in touch with the customers’ ever-changing needs.
4. We don’t look at the end-to-end customer experience. Too often, we look at and drive customer-impacting initiatives within a single business function.
This struggle is a pretty common reality for a lot of companies. Departmental or functional goals and objectives cause many managers to maintain a narrow focus. Priorities and associated activities then follow suit. However, customers don’t think about their experience in the same way you manage your business.
I recently worked with a cable company with an order management department. One of the responsibilities of this group was to confirm customer orders before a truck rolled for installation. It makes good sense. Customers want the installation to be inclusive of all the right services, and the cable operator only wants to roll a truck to that location once. However, the sequence of events for the customer often went something like the following:
- The salesperson confirms the final scope of work with the customer per the proposal, and 24-hours later, the order management department calls the customer with the same questions the salesperson asked a day earlier.
- The salesperson tries to confirm the details of the proposal, and the order management professional tries to ensure the field service technician enters the location with all the right tools. But to the customer, getting asked the same questions from two different people within 24 hours causes concern about whether the company listens, understands or struggles with internal communication.
These touchpoints are necessary, but the transition from one department to the next needs more effective means of orchestration. A transition between departments is an experience blind spot that you can only expose by looking at the end-to-end experience from the customer’s perspective.
5. We don’t want to start our digital transformation without first understanding our customer’s journey with us.
The best digital transformation efforts begin with discovery and visioning. We gear this phase of work toward aligning an organization’s digital strategy with customer needs. Journey mapping provides a solution to identify customer needs across multiple points of interaction. From researching solutions to, hopefully, developing a long-term relationship with your company, understanding customer needs at every point of communication is a valuable way to ensure the digital tools you deploy are focused on increasing the value delivered by your firm. If you broadly define your digital transformation, it will include digital technologies aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your employees. In turn, just as you would explore the needs of customers with journey mapping, you should do the same for employees.
You should expect the following from your journey mapping initiative:
1) To identify moments of truth with customers
2) To assess the customer’s perception of your performance
3) To provide an end-to-end perspective of the journey, they have with your company
4) To help you rationalize new projects and provide a foundation for developing a digitally enabled future-state experience.
In the Age of The Customer, successful businesses start with the customer experience and then work backward. Journey maps allow companies to look at the business from the customer’s perspective. It is providing important insights that enable a company to better align its people, processes and technology with customer needs.