Why is it that too often we make customers’ and clients’ effort to do business with us a convoluted journey? For years I have seen situations where businesses have fallen short in their effort to make their customer’s journey easier and more productive.
If these times are not challenging enough, we seem to make them more challenging. I was working with a client who operates a sizable repair and return facility. In this case, instruments are returned by customers, repaired, and forwarded back to the customer; if needed, loaners are shipped and utilized during the repair process. Pretty straight forward, or at least you would think.
Not at all, as there were many challenges with logistic issues, turnaround time challenges, return and recycle loaner challenges, and more. My client, meaning well, attacked these issues as they arose. However, what was missing was an overall strategy and roadmap that aligned itself with the needs and expectations of the customer. Furthermore, they had not taken the time to make sure they understood whether the outcome was what the customer expected.
If these stories do not resonate with you, just think about your Help Desk. If one cannot solve their problem in the self-service portal, do they fail when going into one of your other channels? Or think about the next complaint that is escalated to you and the journey that customer went through - could this situation be handled more effectively and easier?
The tool I find most effective to use in these situations is Customer Journey Mapping (CJM). This approach allows us to look at the customer’s or client’s end-to-end experience, and the touchpoints of their interfaces as they work with our business. We can visualize the customer goals, pain points, gaps in our performance, and outcome delivery. The CJM allows us to understand what is happening with the customer, and how to make an impactful improvement where our performance requires. In this manner we gain appreciation for the customer’s experience.
In today’s disruptive times, and with multichannel and multitouchpoint operations, how the customer interacts with us is complex and continually evolving. We are changing and customer behavior is changing. The CJM reflects this, and offers an eye-opening look at where we can improve. We will be able to drive change from the insight we have gained into the details of the customer’s journey, and we can clearly see what requires our immediate prioritization.
Here are some important points to consider when it comes to CJM:
- CJM is a very effective tool to illustrate what customers truly want through a real-world experience of service delivery, product engagement, or a combination of both.
- The more touch points within a customer experience, the more detailed the map, and the more opportunities for improvement.
- The process defines the service delivery from start to finish and before start to after finish, and identifies the barriers to success, so that we can improve these processes and deliver improved customer success.
- We take the time to completely understand the path the customer will take, encompassing stakeholder roles, related metrics, and business challenges.
- Every customer journey has emotional moments. Sometimes these are unwanted emotions, CJM allows us to address these negative moments.
Delivering the customer experience is more challenging than one realizes. Organizations learn that there is much more to the job of engaging and retaining customers than just putting something in place and moving on to the next challenge. While we may recognize the need to provide easy and rewarding experiences, we are challenged with designing, developing, executing, and delivering an integrated customer experience strategy.
To move from delivering a good experience to a better or great experience requires that you set aside past practices and thinking and consider some changes.
Here are some questions to answer:
- When was the last time you validated your customer’s expected outcomes?
- Have your processes been customer journey mapped?
- Have the barriers to successful performance been identified and removed?
- Would a CJM allow a good look at your internal technology?
- In our processes, is there organizational alignment, and have all stakeholders been involved?
- Have we set the course for a mindset that foregoes silo thinking to facilitate customer success?
- Is there a plan for mapping multiple processes (internal and external), and not just make this a one-off exercise?
How you answer these questions will give you the insight on whether the processes you are a house of cards or built around successful execution and delivering that customer loyalty building experience.