by Allan Ung
Steve Jobs once wisely stated, "You've got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around." These words couldn't be more relevant today, especially in the face of the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses that failed to adapt have sadly gone bankrupt, while others have turned to digital solutions to survive. However, merely going digital isn't enough. It's crucial to put the customer journey at the forefront of your strategy.
As Nigel Greenwood, the author of "Walking In Your Customers' Shoes," aptly puts it, Customer Experience is "Everything your customer sees, touches, and feels about your company." In essence, customers are less influenced by the core product or service itself than by the layers of experiences surrounding it (Figure 1). People derive value and meaning from the total experience, not isolated aspects of it.
Figure 1 - Customers are less influenced by the core offering than by the layers of experience around it.
(Source: Adapted from Stickdorn et al., 2018)
Customer journey mapping provides a visual framework to understand the steps customers take while engaging with your product or service and the impact of each step. These maps enable problem-solving teams to "see" what customers go through in their pursuit of a goal. However, it's important to note that a journey map is not just a collection of satisfactory touchpoints; it should depict a satisfactory end-to-end customer journey.
To enhance the quality of the customer experience, organizations must gain a deep understanding of their customers, acquiring greater customer insight and addressing the complete customer journey.
Notably, industry leaders like Apple, IDEO, Starbucks, Airbnb, Singapore Airlines, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and DBS Bank employ customer journey mapping to ensure customer-centricity in their strategies. The good news is that creating a customer journey map is a manageable task. An example of a journey map for an online purchasing experience is illustrated in Figure 2 below.
Fig. 2 - Customer journey map for an online purchasing experience.
To craft a current state journey map, follow these steps:
Step 1: Persona
Define a persona, representing the customer embarking on the journey. Aim to tell their story in their own words to illustrate what works and what doesn't.
Step 2: Stages
Organize the journey into stages that outline the major activities. These stages should encompass the entire customer journey or specific parts targeted for improvement, with 3 to 8 stages recommended.
Step 3: Goals
Include the customer's goals and expectations at each stage, identifying disconnects and obstacles that hinder an excellent customer experience.
Step 4: Actions
Define what the customer does at touchpoints and channels. Focus on WHAT the customer is doing and WHERE they are interacting. Additionally, showcase the emotional impact of each touchpoint.
Step 5: Thoughts & Feelings
Illustrate the customer's thoughts and feelings throughout the journey, using emojis or satisfaction scores to convey their emotional state.
Step 6: Metrics
Integrate quantitative data onto the journey to correlate with qualitative information. Metrics may include customer satisfaction ratings, business value data, or internal process performance.
Step 7: Opportunities
Identify opportunities for improvement and innovation. Prioritize those that have a significant impact on the customer experience or journey objectives.
The current state journey map serves as a diagnostic tool for the problem-solving team. Subsequently, a future state journey map can be developed to reframe and reimagine new customer experiences that align with the brand promise.
A great journey map shouldn't be confined to a PowerPoint presentation. Instead, it should be an oversized, tangible creation, prominently displayed in a meeting room or common area to facilitate discussions.
If the journey map appears too lengthy, consider breaking it into smaller steps to maintain focus. Furthermore, if your goal is to attract non-customers and expand your market share, consider creating a separate journey map for this audience, as they may follow a different decision-making path.
Finally, it's advisable to incorporate other Voice of Customer components, such as NPS and Satisfaction Scores, to connect with existing customer research within your company.
In conclusion, customer journey mapping is an invaluable tool for businesses seeking to thrive in a customer-centric world. By understanding and optimizing the customer experience, organizations can secure their path to success.
Article by Allan Ung, Principal Consultant at Operational Excellence Consulting, a Singapore-based management consultancy firm that assists organizations in maximizing customer value and minimizing wastes through adoption of Design Thinking and Lean Thinking practices. For more information, please visit www.oeconsulting.com.sg