A customer journey map that is actionable and a current representation of the customer’s experience with your company is too valuable a tool to file away on a disk somewhere. How you make use of it is an indicator of the vitality of your company. Use it as a basis to continuously enhance customer experience.
I know, I know. Referencing a Seinfeld episode from the ‘90s probably dates me. But like any joke anchored on real experience, it’s timeless. Google Seinfeld car reservation and you will find multiple YouTube versions of it.
Jerry booked a car rental and when he shows up to collect it, they don’t have the mid-sized care that he reserved. He launches into an exchange with the rep as to whether she understands what reservations are about.
Ending with: “I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. So, you know how to take the reservation. You just don’t know how to hold a reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation. The hold the reservation. Anyone can just take them. “
Of course, it’s much funnier watching it with Jerry’s slapstick body movements and voice inflections. Written here it just sounds like what the comparable real-life version is. A failed customer experience.
It’s funny because it highlights real life failures
It also a really good example of why we need to do customer journey mapping. To understand the full end-to-end experiences of our customers. So, we can link those take the order experiences and tie them off with fulfilled order experiences. And understand if and why we drop the ball.
Not only is it a good example of a failed customer experience, it’s a good example of why we need Customer Journey Maps. But like the reservations, our Journey Maps need further follow-through. We need to not just take a picture of the touchpoints with customers, we need to use them to make sure we fulfill those touchpoints to the customer’s satisfaction.
What does the data tell us
Gartner include in a recent download, the results of a survey they took on whether people are effectively using customer journey mapping. 5% of people surveyed don’t have an established journey map. 19% are working on creating one. 30% have one but struggle with how to use it effectively. Leaving less than half that have an established journey map that are effectively using it to improve customer experiences.
I willing to bet if you surveyed smaller businesses who may be outside of Gartner’s survey catchment, the results might be even less people effectively use customer journey maps.
Yet I believe that even SMB benefit from taking the time to create an actionable customer survey map. That for each touchpoint you understand the tools, collected data and metrics you will use to make it successful. And create an ongoing plan to improve and extend ideal experiences.
So how does a SMB approach Customer Journey Mapping
Similar to an enterprise initiative, just with less people involved and committing less resources.
Decide who is best suited to be involved in the exercise and commit time to the endeavor. Lead by who owns marketing personas. Also involve people who engage with the customer in terms of sales and service. With an online business, you also need to include who understands the experience flow through your websites, online stores, and portals.
Understand the top-level structure of your maps. Gartner’s map includes the top levels of Buy-Own-Advocate. I’ve also used 5 categories for Brand Building, Acquisition, Retention, UpSell/CrossSell and Advocacy. (It represents the customer’s journey along a path of greater awareness and commitment to doing business with you. In truth they are the same, with the second split into a little more detail.)
Though it looks like a funnel, it is something that is created from the viewpoint of the customer, not your internal teams. So it’s not Marketing-Sales-Service.
Start small and iterate
I’m a big advocate of the term progressive elaboration. If you have never done this before start small and build on it. Focus on complete coverage, rather than depth. Begin with the basics in each section. Make that one of the goals for your customer experience improvement program be that you continue to improve and refine your customer journey map.
There are plenty of different tools that you can use to create the actual Journey Map. The simplest is using something like MS Powerpoint or Visio. A white board would work too, if you can figure a way to preserve it and share it. There are also online services, such as LucidChart. And people even use collaborative tools like Trello.
Gather all information you have for each touchpoint. Metrics. Customer Surveys. Cases. User research. Take each point and give it some depth. And allow you to analyze any problems or need for improvement.
Consider doing it for each relevant personal or segment that you engage with. This might mean doing it first for your ideal customer, and then revisiting any differences for other segments.
Invite customers to validate the journey from their perspective. Don’t just call on your best customers and your advocates. Consider people that may be somewhere along the journey to get a better view of where they are now.
Use the Customer Journey Map to improve customer experience.
Once you have a view of the customer journey, sketchy or detailed, you can start to use it to improve customer experience. And of course, improve the business outcomes that are associated with each touchpoint.
Analyze the information you have gathered to identify areas that need improvement. Or are not performing to expectations – yours and the customers. Prioritize what you want to tackle first. Set some rules of engagement.
As an example, you may decide that you want to have customer surveys at key transition points. But looking at the metrics, you may be happy with the number of customers you are acquiring, but not with how long you are retaining them. So, you might consider first doing a survey at the six month point rather than initially. Armed with the current view of the journey, you can insert new survey touchpoints to areas where gathering further information will be more impactful.
Another example might be that you find that you don’t have enough touchpoints that are true advocacy. You may want to brainstorm some creative ways to increase advocate engagement beyond referrals and testimonials. For example, create an email campaign that asks people to social share your latest content, offer or freebie. Make it easy for them.
Again start small and iterate. Take action and measure the impact of that action.
Use the customer journey as a training tool for new staff. Keep it somewhere that is accessible to everyone who would benefit from understanding it.
A customer journey map that is actionable and a current representation of the customer’s experience with your company is too valuable a tool to file away on a disk somewhere. The customer’s journey through your company is a path of increasing awareness of your business and commitment to continuing a relationship with you. How you make use it is an indicator of the vitality of your company. Use it as a basis to continuously enhance customer experience at each touchpoint.
Aim to be the company who holds reservations, not just takes reservations. Successfully fulfill customer expectations and you will build a thriving base of repeat customers and advocates.