CX Strategy (12) – Journey mapping – The Main Customer Experience Measurement and Improvement Systems – Part 7
Welcome to the 12th article in a series about customer experience strategy development and implementation.
This is the final article in a sub-series of seven about CX measurement and improvement systems. I hope you have enjoyed them, and that you learned at least a little. This time I will cover journey mapping and make some suggestions about choosing the improvement system that best matches your needs. The journey mapping section is a shortened version of my article on the same subject a couple of years ago, which you can find here.
Journey Mapping is probably the most sophisticated and complete form of customer experience measurement and improvement. Perhaps too sophisticated. Read what follows and see what you think.
Most companies and teams start off thinking they have relatively few customer contact points. They tend to think in terms of sales cycles. Each step in the sales journey brings the customer closer to buying your product or service. I formed my current views on journey mapping when thinking about the first step most companies consider: awareness of your product or service.
The number of possible customer touchpoints has multiplied
I feel journey mapping is both incomplete and obsolete for customer experience. Just consider the number of ways a customer can become aware of your product or service. A friend may tell them about it via Twitter, Facebook or at a social event. They may read a LinkedIn article. They could do a web search and just happen upon it by chance. Their manager may just have joined from another company that uses the product. The software industry shows how the old way of thinking of customer journeys is incomplete. In the ‘good old days’, you needed to buy hardware to run software. This meant that the central IT and procurement people were important.
The growth of Slack is an example of a different paradigm. Small groups of users typically start to use the messaging product for free on their own. It spreads to larger groups that have the authority to buy the licenses on their own, since they need no new hardware, and it all grows from there. The history of Salesforce.com is full of stories of sales teams implementing the software without the permission or authorization of central IT. The message here is that modern customer journeys contain more potential customer touchpoints than you can reasonably map and address. Creating an initial journey map takes a long time, and it will be obsolete before it is complete. In addition, whoever is funding your work will run out of patience before you have finished.
Things other than touchpoints matter
The effort involved in creating a customer journey map makes it easy to think that the analysis covers all there is to cover. It is also easy to think that all touchpoints are equal. They are not. For most industries and companies, brand image attributes have close to the same importance as experiences customers may have when they contact you in some way. For some businesses, your perception as environmentally friendly or socially responsible can be critical. An example where the environmentally friendly image is important is the Whole Foods chain in the USA, now owned by Amazon. How does your public image compare to that of your competitors? It is certainly more important than some individual administrative touchpoints like issuing credit notes.
Don’t bother with comprehensive maps. Be tactical. Think in terms of ‘episodes’
Consistent with the rest of the messages about strategy in our books, I recommend doing customer journey maps exclusively for areas that have been identified by customers, partners or employees as needing improvement. This means you should do very few journey maps, and will probably only work on improving one or two at any given time. You do not have the resources to do everything everyone wants to do at the same time. Prioritize, using customer input. When your colleagues come to you saying they want to do a journey map for an area nobody has identified as needing improvement, be clear why you are saying no, and perhaps give them the opportunity to work on a journey map in a more important improvement area. A metaphor that may help is the one of ‘episodes’. If you think of the entire customer journey as a TV series, a focus area would be a single episode. An episode should be defined in terms of the customer outcome, rather than just the name of a process. More on this in a future blog post.
One situation where you need a comprehensive map
There is one situation where comprehensive journey mapping is essential, and that is when your company is replacing its existing management systems by new software designed to help customers and employees manage every interaction a customer has with your company. If you forget something important that your competitors have not forgotten, you will probably suffer. The customer experience team can help by supplying data about customer satisfaction with existing processes as you design new ones.
HP’s software business grew through acquisitions, and we had many different ordering systems in place. When we decided to go for a single system, we used journey mapping to prioritize and understand the effort. Based on the satisfaction metrics for the different processes, everything to do with ordering and obtaining license keys that worked correctly came out at the top of the improvement priority list. In addition to working on how to improve those processes, we determined how to eliminate the need for customers to deal with the keys at all. The diagram at the top of this article is an example of a customer journey map for a software company. There are items where customer interaction is rare. When using the map, you would use your own customer and competition research to indicate which items most need improvement, and which are the ones where you have a competitive advantage that you need to sustain.
Journey mapping is a complex technique that takes a lot of time to do well. Be selective. Only use it for the small subset of process that your customers say you need to improve.
Deciding which improvement system is best for you
While a number of systems have been described here, the one that is best for you may not be the one whose features and benefits you personally prefer. What follows are some additional decision criteria.
Your CEO’s experience
Meg Whitman came to HP from politics, after an unsuccessful attempt to become governor of California. She had been CEO of eBay before that, and worked at Bain earlier in her career. eBay used NPS. Bain invented NPS together with Satmetrix. Nobody could conceivably have persuaded Meg that NPS should not be used at HP. She insisted that it be implemented across the company. If you have a new CEO and are implementing an improvement system for the first time, find out what the CEO used in the past and whether it was considered successful. Don’t bother proposing anything else without a really good reason. Of course I am picking the CEO as an example of an important person. There may be others in your management chain who matter more to you.
If you have a limited budget, you may want to use whatever system costs the least, avoiding anything that carries licensing fees or needs substantial upfront investment. In principle, this would drive you to the Net Promoter System for general use, or Customer Effort Score for service centers. There is lots of free and inexpensive software available to support NPS implementation, somewhat less for CES. If you have just a small number of customers and want to get started with surveys, the free version of SurveyMonkey has certified NPS templates in a number of languages, as do some other companies. You should be able to find at least some NPS benchmark scores for your industry without cost. There are many online forums that discuss NPS and indeed other methods.
If you have done your research and found that customers are not currently mentioned among the top formal priorities for your company, you may want to pursue a highly selective approach. If other things matter more to your CEO at the moment, you should implement something that is easy to communicate, such as NPS, and run it explicitly as a pilot. There is an advantage in lack of current sponsorship in that you may have more time to gather data and prove the financial ROI before you are in the spotlight.
Your views are welcome
As usual, this article is a modified version of a chapter of one of our books, in this case Customer Experience Strategy – Design and Implementation. All of our books are available on Amazon only, in Kindle and paperback formats.
Your views on are welcome below.