How to Get More Value From Customer Journeys

Customer happiness is a main goal of every business. But it can be elusive as the Scarlett Pimpernel, and not without a lot of effort by a lot of frustrated Marketers trying to find it. It’s not easy. Only if you’re relevant and deliver value every single time a customer comes into contact with your brand can you build a long-lasting, valuable, honest relationship. To try and crack this rather tough nut to customer happiness a lot of Marketers are increasingly turning to Customer Journey Mapping. Read on to learn about my recommendations to get more value from customer journeys.

At Thunderhead we have a new approach: customer managed journeys. You don’t pre-determine the journeys to focus on. Your customers show you what’s most important and help you to understand what value means to them. It’s a value exchange accelerator which results in effortless engagement and happier customers. You can really see the truth of where customers are the least engaged with your brand. Then you can focus on the journeys that deliver the least customer happiness and resolve the issues there. You can immediately understand the impact of customers’ changing needs in the context of their actual, real journeys with you. You can immediately adapt the journeys to react to the changes in real-time. The result is your customers and you see more value, faster – and faster.

So what is the problem with the current traditional approach to Customer Journey mapping?

Marketers today often use ad-hoc methods to decide which customer journeys to focus on and to map (and generally focus on sales related activities). Then, having decided on which journey to focus on, you may then spend a lot of time and resources going over user flows, interaction points, journey mapping workshops and lengthy consumer research studies. It’s epic stuff. But after all the hard work it’s a common frustration that customer journey mapping often doesn’t deliver on its promise.

Traditional methods focus on a single journey which means it does not efficiently consider all the journeys a customer can be on and how these cross-journey experiences impact the journey being mapped for improvement. Traditional journey mapping methods can’t cope with so many variables. This means you often don’t know which journeys or parts thereof are the cause of unengaged customers. You may focus on the most widely used journey even if that has the least issues for customers. You don’t get to see what happens in journeys you don’t focus on, and the assumption is that all people experience a journey in the same manner. So seemingly a lot of assumptions and unknowns and as they say “the unknowns remain unknown”.

You will never know if you are really focused on the right parts when you can’t see the complete picture. It’s like driving a car blind-folded – you can’t see if you’re looking at the journeys the customer will get the most value from. Nor can you see if you’re focused on the part which has the most issues – so if it was fixed you and your customers could get the most value.

Journey mapping like this is also a slow, infrequent exercise which absorbs a huge amount of time and effort. You have no way of understanding any changes in your customers’ behaviour, at least in any time you can usefully do anything about it. It reminds me of the old ISO 9000 standard which manufacturers spent hundreds of hours and thousands of pounds acquiring, only to end up gathering dust on a shelf rather than being used in a continuous manner as circumstances change. Customer behaviour is not static so why should journey maps be static? This results in maps that are old before they are new.

So how do customer managed journeys differ from traditional customer journey mapping?

The path to customer happiness can be found by losing the blind-fold and adopting a continuous, holistic cycle of insight and evolution. The spin speed of this cycle needs to happen in real-time with your customers’ behaviour.

  1. Listen to every customer interaction regardless of where, when, and how it happens. The key here is not to miss any interactions as missing one could change everything you think you know about your customer and where they are on the journey.
  2. Utilise “listeners” as the foundation for the visualisation of customer journeys in such way that the visualisations can truly translate these seemingly independent channel experiences into a holistic view of how customers prefer to interact with the organisation to fulfil their needs and wants. Only when you can see the complete picture can you really see the key journeys, customer needs as they progress along it, and where you have the most issues.
  3. Identify the appropriate audience based on most common behaviours and add to them the outliers who want their journey to be different. This will give you real, complete journey insight. Forrester refers to this activity as “Expectation Mapping” in a white paper published by Ryan Hart called “Customer Experience Pros Should Shift Their Focus From Needs To Expectations
  4. The previous provides a solid, insight-driven approach to the selection of the most relevant journeys to map and also which customers should participate to provide a representative audience for workshops.
  5. Your workshops now will focus on understanding the positive and negative emotions that customers have as they move along their journeys. Overlaying these emotions onto the insight driven journey maps provides a much more relevant and appropriate understanding of customers’ behaviour as they engage across all touchpoints to complete a journey.
  6. These insights are then used to make improvements to the customer journey and then the cycle of listening (as per 1) can continue to provide immediate insights and also alert the business as to how changing customer behaviour impacts journey progress.

Give customer managed journeys a try and you’ll discover a way to speed up the value exchange between your business and customers which results in effortless engagement and happier customers.

Ray is Chief Technology Officer at Thunderhead. Find out more about Ray.