Customer journey mapping still has its place, but organisations must be structured to support a total customer-focus
Anything that allows an organisation to better understand its customers and the experience they receive from that organisation, can only be good thing. Knowledge is power when it comes to delivering a better customer experience and I wouldn’t knock any attempts to improve it.
That’s why, although customer journey mapping (CJM) isn’t always regarded that highly in the industry, it’s not something that I have a problem with. Deployed correctly and efficiently it can allow a brand to understand the experiences of many different customers groups, and go on to address and improve imperfections or inconsistencies in that experience.
It can also help provide a more seamless experience across a business, and for me that’s where it is best deployed. Delivering the right customer experience is so important in this era of empowered consumers, organisations must have a complete customer focus, right across the business. A key element in achieving this, is in ensuring that there is a board-level executive focused on customers and the right structure to deliver.
CJM – impacting organisational change
CJM has existed as a concept for a good number of years now. It involves the mapping out of the customer experience across all interactions between a brand and its customers. This includes initial contact – whether online, in person, telephone or other – right the way through point of purchase, after sales support and then into any on-going communication after that.
It allows an organisation to map out both the experience it would like to provide and also the type of experience the customer would like to receive. The gaps between the two maps can then indicate clearly where improvements need to be made and the brand can begin the process of improving that, usually in the areas of people, processes or technology.
But one of the common problems CJM can highlight is the fact that many organisations are structured in silos, a structure that is completely unconducive to delivering an omnichannel and contextual customer experience. This can result in a lack of joined-up thinking, and for any customer being passed from department to department, and not retaining the context from previous interactions, this is extremely frustrating. It also makes it hard when organisations use the CJM findings to try and change their approach.
A customer focus must start at the top
A customer wants an experience that is seamless across all interactions. If they speak with an agent via a live chat service, they want the context from that interaction retained if they need to call an agent a few hours later. That’s why organisations should start looking at how they are structured. Customer experience is so important in modern business, there is a strong argument for structuring a business according to how it can best deliver a good customer experience.
With so many organisations based around different functions and siloes, it is not easy to make significant change. But with a structure that is designed with the customer experience in mind, not only is it easier to make incremental changes but it also means that it’s far less likely for there to much that needs changing in the first place.
Changing the way in which an organisation is structured is no small undertaking, and it requires someone right at the top to drive it through. A key part of delivering the right customer experience is having the right culture - a workforce and strategy that is truly focused on the customer. Part of this comes with having the right staff and giving them the right training and tools to deliver this experience. But an equally big part is having senior buy-in, ideally from the CEO themselves. Many organisations are starting to have a CCO (Chief Customer Officer) or CXO (Customer Experience Officer) on the board too.
Structuring around customer experience will be the default for organisations within a few years, and highlighting how to go about that could well be CJM’s biggest contribution.
Mike Hughes is MD at PeopleTECH and one of the UK’s foremost customer experience experts, having worked for and consulted companies such Thomas Cook, BskyB and France Telecom on how best to deliver a first-class experience to their customers.
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