A seamless customer experience gets delivered when you answer the questions your customer is asking. It’s as simple as that. Getting there, however, takes a lot of work.
Let’s focus on the role that customer journey maps play in a seamless customer experience. When used consistently, a journey framework, even in its simplest form, provides a structure to understand the priorities in customers’ lives. We all know there are many versions of journey maps getting created by well-intended and enthusiastic teams, but completing the map alone doesn’t change behavior or ensure accountability.
Step 1: Establish a framework for delivering a seamless customer experience.
Do leaders have a framework for guiding the work of your organization?
Utilizing a comprehensive journey framework enables the leadership team to make choices on how you will deliver better experiences to your customers. This moves the work from trying to drive improvement on all the touchpoints to focusing on those that matter most in the lives of customers.
Your focus is then translated into clarity of purpose, education and training, and the delivery of a reliable experience. Once you consistently hit these points, you can turn your focus to innovation and creating customer desire.
Step 2: Speak the same language.
"Press your leadership team to agree on how you want to use the journey map to drive change operationally and culturally."
Do you have agreement on the names of the stages for your customer’s experience?
As you take on journey mapping, make your first action gaining agreement on the names of the stages of the journey. This is VERY important. You are in the process of shifting from silo (inside-out) thinking to one that's about your customers (outside-in thinking).
- Inside-out: Stage names state silo objectives
- Outside-in: Stage names describe what the customer needs and wants to accomplish
You want leaders and your organization to adapt their language and start using your stage names—consistently—in how they discuss their work and hold people accountable.
Use the customer journey stages to unite your leaders before you jump right into touchpoint mapping. Press your leadership team to agree on how you want to use the journey map to drive change operationally and culturally. In my practice at CustomerBliss, I find that leaders who are personally involved in these sometimes mind-twisting exercises are most united in their communication and decision-making. Having the hard conversations before journey mapping can be the catalyst for a great day that sparks one-company transformation of communication, decision-making and accountability.
Step 3: Clarify your purpose.
Are leaders united in how you improve your customers’ lives? (Why are you in business?)
You may have already taken the time to clearly state for your organization how your business improves customers’ lives. Time and time again, this has proven to be a critical step to take. Clarity of purpose must be clear enough to guide operating decisions. In order to achieve that, it needs to be crafted with the customers’ journey at its core. Without it, the work that comes out of journey mapping is at risk of staying silo-centric rather than guided by a simple understanding of how outcomes should improve customers’ lives.
How you will improve customers’ lives as a result of their journey with you? Focus on how they will benefit from working with you versus what you want to achieve in the marketplace.
Focusing on the “why” elevates the work of the organization and grounds people on actions to earn the right to customer-driven growth.
Step 4: Empower your employees.
Does your customer experience answer the questions that your customer wants answered?
(Put another way, your prompt delivery of accurate information and reliable behaviors answer your customers questions.)
This is the fundamental shift that leaders must be united in embracing: Do we earn the right to growth? And leaders must agree on the priorities along that journey. Leaders must be committed and clearly communicate to the organization the deliberate experiences customers are trying to achieve at each stage of the experience. “Experience” that leads to growth is your operational answer to the questions that customers want answered when they engage and do business with you.
Use your customer journey stages and draft the questions customers would want answered in each stage as they interact with you.
Your leadership team should use the journey stages and these questions as a lens for guiding strategic business direction and decision-making.
The “outside in” versus “inside out” lens helps leaders steer the course if a map like the simple one seen below is repeatedly used with consistency.
Step 5: Map the structure for a seamless customer experience.
A seamless customer experience with your customer includes:
- prompt actions
- accurate information
- training on products, services and processes
- empowered & knowledgeable employees
- completed connections and touch points
- consistent, reliable behaviors delivered by your organization
The exercise of creating a journey map does not ensure a seamless customer experience. It provides the framework that enables decisions on how you improve customers’ lives and how you will address critical touchpoints. Your answers will require a lot of work from the organization. You have the structure to keep building your seamless customer experience.
Finally, use this information to tell the story of your customers’ journey to the organization. Find a creative way to package and introduce the stages as they are established and validated. Use the framework on an ongoing basis to discuss by stage, the progress made and emerging customer issues and opportunities.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2016. A version of this article was first published on CustomerBliss.