Mapping customer journeys and experiences is very popular with marketers, designers and customer experience professionals to help visualise and improve the experiences they are creating. But with so many different mapping approaches and customer journey mapping tools all providing different perspectives, scope and focus, it can be difficult to know where to start and how to get the most out of doing it.
We’ve watched, measured and improved customer journeys for hundreds of organisations in all kinds of environments – from hospitals to high street stores. Although most of our projects have focused on improving customer experiences in the real world (as opposed to the virtual one), what we’ve learnt can be applied across all channels and to support whatever approach you decide to use.
Read our 8 tips to get the most out of CJM.
1. Observe Your Customers in Real Life Situations
Even if you have mountains of data, it is impossible to visualise what it’s really like for your customers from sitting behind a desk. Customers behave in unpredictable ways. Making assumptions about the kind of experiences you are creating, will result in gaps, errors and missed opportunities. The only way to really understand your customers and the problems they face is to spend some time in the field observing them.
We use field based observational tools and techniques to capture real insights about customer journeys, behaviours and their actual experiences. Watching customers in real life situations, will help you uncover problems and potential opportunities that you would otherwise not see.
2. Decode and Count Every Journey
Typically, one of the first stages in CJM is to agree the different customer journey types and paths they would follow. This is designed to encourage ‘outside in’ thinking, by understanding what customers are trying to achieve, as opposed to looking ‘inwards’ to how an organisation operates.
We believe that the only way to identify and decode all the different types of journeys is to observe and count them in the actual settings where they are being performed. This may take some time to ensure every journey has been captured, however failure to do so can result in creating a customer experience, which does not fully support all your customer needs.
For example, at passport control in busy airports, we’ve observed many different passenger journeys other than the familiar ‘EU’ and ‘Non-EU’ pathways. There are landing card passengers, groups of students, young families with children, dual nationals, E-Chip passengers and passengers with disabilities – to name just a few. Without real insight to different journeys, measures to respond to them will be reactive and ineffective, resulting in unexpected costs and lots of complaints. (See our airport case study ).
3. Watch, Talk and Listen to Your Customers
Don’t assume what you observe is the same as how your customers see it. There can be a huge difference between reality and a customer’s perception. Over 90% of the customers we track and interview feel that the wait time is longer than what we observe. Perceptions can increase exponentially for some customers.
Although focus groups and traditional customer satisfaction surveys can be useful, they are often carried out ‘after the event’, when facts are forgotten and feelings have dissipated. There is little context to their ‘actual’ experience and dissatisfied customers often don’t take part.
The best time and place to talk to customers is when they have just had or are having a real experience. Observing and then talking to customers will help you develop a complete picture of not only what they do, but what they think and feel whilst doing it. Dissatisfied customers are more likely to participate, if approached with some empathy, when they have just had an experience. You may need to be flexible and open with the questions you ask, but what they tell you can be of more value than feedback from happy customers who are ready and willing to take part.
4. Treat All Touchpoints as Important
A touchpoint is when a customer interacts with your organisation in some way, or when they are actually ‘having an experience’. Most CJM approaches encourage logging key touchpoints and prioritising them. The intention is to identify one or more key ‘moments of truth’, which are critical to a customer interaction or when a key decision needs to be made.
However, we believe that focusing on a limited number of touchpoints can be a mistake. Every touchpoint is important! For example, taking a test drive or sitting at a sales desk negotiating a purchase may be key ‘moments’ for car dealerships, but in the eyes of the customer, their ability to find a parking space can be equally important and what they remember the most.
Another problem with ‘key’ touchpoints, is that customers can experience a whole bunch of other interactions as part of their journey, that don’t include your company at all. Online travel companies often focus on the hotel booking process, when the customer’s overall perception is also driven by their experiences at the hotel such as checking-in, room allocation and billing.
5. Identify and Quantify ‘Waste’
Waste are activities that do not add any value and what most customers would be unwilling to pay for. Identifying and removing waste in your customer journeys will ultimately make your customers happier, increase sales and save you money.
Waste can be activities that are directly visible to the customer such as time spent queuing or providing information more than once. Waste can also be activities, which are not always visible to the customer, such as time spent by staff looking for customers or processing incomplete documentation.
Looking at waste in this way helps separate customers actual experiences from the operations that support them. However, the only way to quantify these different types of waste and understand why they occur is to spend time in the field mapping and measuring customer and staff behaviours in the setting they are performed.
6. Turn CJM into a Project
Treating CJM as a project makes it easier to shift focus from internal process mode and into thinking about how the company can be doing a better job about delivering customer experiences.
Projects are introduced to create something new or to implement change. CJM requires an evaluation of the existing situation, assessing opportunities for improvement and implementing changes to people, processes and systems. This involves activities typically associated with a project, such as developing a business case, stakeholder engagement, a clear plan of action and a systematic approach to implementation.
Whilst CJM should still be part of the larger customer experience efforts within your company, it can be more effective when used to shape ongoing operations to drive improvements and real change.
7. Get Everyone Involved – Build a Project Team
CJM is a great opportunity to visualise the kinds of experiences you are creating, ensuring everyone is on the same page about what the problems really are, why they occur and how to solve them.
Staff involved in direct and indirect activities would all benefit from spending time in the field, ‘walking in the customers shoes’ and considering how customers really feel when they interact with your company. (See our case study about ‘Library Safaris’).
Engaging everyone in the conversation increases customer focus, commitment, teamwork and cross-departmental collaboration. Developing a cross functional project team also ensures individuals capable of solving problems are empowered to fix them.
8. Do More than Just Map – Take Action!
Although the process of mapping customer journeys has immense value, the ultimate goal of CJM is to improve the quality of the customer experience and deliver real change.
Every CJM project should conclude with a clear plan of action, supported by meaningful KPI’s and metrics to monitor and track any improvements. Implementation should focus initially where problems seem worst or are easiest to fix to build momentum and act as a catalyst to drive more complex roll out and change.
Remember that the most value from customer journey mapping will not be derived from the quality of the map itself but from the actions that follow.
If you have any other comments or insights about customer journey mapping, we’d love to hear from you.
Konrad is Principal Consultant at Konvergence, a field based research and consultancy group, with a mission to solve real problems, for real customers going about their business in the real world.
If you think we can help you with your Customer Journey Mapping then please get in touch.