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How Customer Journey Mapping Creates Better Experiences

August 17, 2017
A Customer Journey Mapping Example
I was having a casual, after hours discussion with an experienced and highly regarded restaurant CFO (not a client) when the subject of Customer Journey Mapping came up. He was interested and wanted to know more. And because I believe Customer Journey Mapping can be decisive to improving the guest experience and the company brand and culture, I realized it was well worth writing about.

This is a time when authenticity, transparency, and relationships are very (and rightfully) important to today’s customers, especially Millennials and GenZers. And while digital and multi-channel communications can threaten the creation of consistently positive customer relationships, Customer Journey Mapping has the potent potential of bringing the entire organization closer to its customers for more personal and lasting relationships (and sales growth). This process can also help destroy those internal silos I have railed about before (more than once!).

Customer Touchpoints and Journey Mapping

This same basic thought was expressed to me more than a few years ago by a leading restaurant executive who said—to paraphrase a bit―”More than twelve things happen to a guest before they even see the food … they see our webpage, make a reservation, are greeted, witness the décor, …  ”

As an exercise, I have come up with over twenty-five “touch points” between a restaurant and its current or potential guests, and most are not even media driven. They range from potential customers checking out a location as they drive by to experiencing the website, engaging the server, checking out the menu, interacting on social media (Facebook, Instagram … ), reacting to email (and direct mail!), sampling from a third party catered event, chatting with the bartender, talking to friends, digesting online reviews, and—as I said—many more.

Doesn’t it make sense to do what you can to deliver a consistent understanding of “who you are” and “why you are in business?” People relate to people—not things―and they are eager to know your concept or product can be trusted and enjoyed repeatedly.  A false or discordant experience in this “getting acquainted” process can turn them away or prevent them from returning.

Of course, delivering consistent brand and promotional messages and personality has to start with leadership’s ability and commitment to support the culture and define the brand for all—internally and externally.

Steps toward Developing a Customer Journey Map

The goal of your organization’s customer journey map is for the organization as a whole to understand how everyone’s role can directly or indirectly impact a customer’s or guest’s experience.  The Customer Journey Mapping process should help to unite your organization―from IT to HR to Operations to Marketing to Finance―under the common banner of the customer experience and becoming more customer-centric.

To the right is a “for instance” look at what a customer journey map beginning to take shape might look like, with the eventual level of detail depending on your goals and resources.

The great things about Customer Journey Mapping are:

  • The process itself is beneficial to a fuller understanding of your customers and their expectations and feelings about the company’s relationship to them—a relationship which needs to be as personal and predictable as possible, regardless of scale.
  • The process itself will uncover gaps between devices, departments, and channels as it delves into the customers’ actions, motivations, questions, and barriers for each customer type.

A good internal or external facilitator can help the process stay organized and open to fresh insights while managing the impact of the day-to-day.

Your Customer Journey Mapping effort can utilize a major firm like McorpCX with lots of experience in the field for the best results. They can help define your needs and next steps and work with you to deliver a customer-centric program that fits your organization’s strategies, brand, and sales.

Again, it is primarily about bringing the multi-channel world of multiple experiences together to speak with one voice while understanding a customer’s perspective and motivation at each touch point. The customer’s attitude may change from touchpoint to touchpoint as the customer’s frame-of-mind changes from viewing Facebook pages or your website or email, for example.

If it is mostly an internal project for your team, make sure the chosen leader or facilitator sees the project as a priority.  It will be important, for starters, to spend time discussing and understanding every touch point regardless of how small or seemingly remote.  Remember the customer’s process may not be linear and don’t hesitate to start out with something that is all encompassing but perhaps a bit chaotic looking.  Your Customer Journey Map will be refined as you get closer to completion and have a better understanding of the company’s natural limitations.

Finally, be sure to take advantage of whatever customer research is available, do not hesitate to add more if resources allow, and be sure your metrics are well defined before launching your new programs.

In the early stages, casting a broad net can contribute to a better understanding of your customer as not every journey will be the same.

As you launch into your own “journey” for Customer Journey Mapping, keep the focus on the goal of having your entire organization deliver the best customer experience ever in our demanding, multi-channel and authenticity and transparency demanding world.

[A similar version of this post originally appeared in the AMA Executive Circle Blog on Thursday, August 3.]

 

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