Customer Experience is much bigger than Customer Service. The experience a customer gets doesn’t just come from the service they receive. Their experience is also determined by the product and channel propositions, including the product, price, sales channel, promotional and branding activity. They all have an impact on the customer’s experience.
Customer Experience encourages businesses to view themselves in the same way that their customers do. The way the customers think about a company or brand tends to be chronological. Experience doesn’t necessarily just come from a single interaction. Our total experience is determined by our our emotional and functional interactions with that business over time. It is for this reason that Customer Journey Mapping is such a central tenet of Customer Experience management.
Customer Journey Mapping is spoken about a lot, yet it is still misunderstood by some people. A number of organisations I have spoken to over the years, including some of the biggest brands in the world, can still get it wrong. I was once advised by a major financial services brand that they had undertaken a Customer Journey Mapping exercise, only to find that they had simply mapped out their internal processes relating to the production and distribution of promotional materials to customers over time.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the financial services brand undertaking this exercise, however what they were doing was more ‘inside-out’ than ‘outside-in’. This should be more accurately described as mapping a process-flow rather than a customer journey.
So with some of the largest brands in the world still capable of falling short, there is probably no harm in providing a reminder of the fundamentals of Customer Journey Mapping.
Customer Journey Mapping – The Right Steps…
1. Defining the Customer Experience Journey Framework – The first step of Customer Journey Mapping is to define the generic stages of a customer’s journey. For example, the first stage might be ‘Awareness’ or ‘I’m thinking of Joining’; and the final stage might be ‘I’m Leaving’ or ‘I’m Terminating my Contract’. These generic stages provide the framework around which the rest of the Customer Journey mapping exercise can be built. The stages are typically generic enough that they can be applied across a business or even an industry sector for all journeys, irrespective of customer segment or channel. Furthermore, these stages can be broken down further into sub-stages, or as we at Jericho like to refer to them, phases.
2. Designing the Customer Experience ‘curves’ – Research performs a critical part in Journey Mapping. Using Voice of the Customer, Customer Satisfaction and/ or NPS techniques, the business can assess the ‘performance’ and ‘importance’ of the business against criteria across the customer journey. This might be expectations of an ‘ideal’ provider (possibly determined from the qualitative research element of VoC), or might be the standard aspects of business performance that you might typically find within a CSAT study. The importance and performance scores enable you to plot customer experience curves for the current and ideal performance of the business. The positioning of these lines, both in isolation and relative to each other, also enables you to determine the ‘pain points’ for the business (areas of lowest performance) and the ‘moments of truth’ for the customer (where the gaps between expectation and reality are at their greatest). This information helps the business to understand the scale of transformational effort required and also how and at which points on the journey the transformational effort should be prioritised.
3. Understanding the Existing Journey – Although the Customer Experience curves help you to understand the state of the existing customer journey from an empirical perspective, it does not help you to understand the detail as to why this might be the case. For this reason, it is also important to ‘walk the processes’, which is a diagnostic exercise that involves following the processes of the business as a customer might experience them. This helps you to identify what works well and what causes problems for the customer. This is also referred to as the identification of ‘value demand’ – what activities undertaken by the business drive value for the customer and company – and ‘failure demand’ – what activities undertaken by the business relate to resolving issues or complaints. This exercise can also help the business to identify the reasons for the ‘pain points’ and poor customer satisfaction, helping it to identify where resolution effort needs to be prioritized.
4. Customer Promises and Commitments – When a business undertakes full Voice of the Customer research, which includes the identification and prioritisation of customer expectations, in addition to mapping the Customer Experience curves, the business can also define the ‘Promises and Commitments’ it would like to make to it’s customers, employees and other stakeholders. Promises and Commitments are typically themes that reflect the most important expectations of the customer, for example Trust, Honesty, Credibility, Security, Honour, etc.
Promises and Commitments play a vital role in Customer Experience transformation. Improving customer experience is basically about reducing the gap between what the customer expects and what they actually get (or what they perceive they get!). There are two sides to a gap. Managing customer experience doesn’t just come from making improvements to the product, channel and service propositions, but also by managing customers’ expectations via branding and marketing communications. Promises and Commitments not only provide ‘context’ to the nature of the transformation undertaken to product, channel and service, but are also used to help the business to correctly position its brand, thereby helping to manage customer expectations.
5. Designing Future-State Customer Experiences – The previous steps help you to understand the existing journey in detail, including where the problems exist and why; and they also help to empirically determine what the ‘ideal’ customer journey might be. However until now, there is no detail as to what the ideal Customer Journey might look and feel like. Designing Future-State Customer Experiences is a story-telling exercise that helps you to build detailed narrative as to what the stages and phases of the new Customer Journeys might look, feel, hear, smell or even taste like. This is a behavioural science driven exercise that considers the experience across all customer segments and within all channels, as determined by the business.
Following on from the Journey Mapping activities, the business then needs to undertake gap-closing exercises and initiatives in order to turn the existing journeys into the future-state customer experiences.
To know more about how we can help your business deliver exceptional customer experience, contact us.