Who are journey managers – and why could they be crucial to the future of CX?
A growing number of organisations are appointing journey managers. What are the key responsibilities of these roles - and why are they being recruited?
The growing focus on the customer experience has given rise to a range of new job functions in recent years, as organisations have explored different roles, tasks, owners and structures to help them create a consistent, joined-up approach to CX across their operations, and ultimately improve experiences.
Amongst those that have become increasingly common over the last five years are ‘chief customer officer’, ‘head of customer experience’ and ‘customer success manager’. One you may be less familiar with, but which is being tipped to rise to prominence in the future, is ‘journey manager’.
Kerry Bodine, CEO at CX consultants Bodine & Co, has been tracking the emergence of this role, and when she scoured LinkedIn as part of her global research into journey managers last year, she found only 1,248 people with ‘journey manager’ in their current or previous titles - and even then a proportion of those were unrelated to customer journeys.
Nonetheless, Bodine has been struck by the potential of the role. She writes: “Journey managers have the potential to reinvent their organisations, bringing together colleagues from across departments and those unavoidable silos to ensure that customers have a smooth experience, no matter what part of the end-to-end journey they’re currently in.”
So what are the key responsibilities of journey managers, why are we more organisations starting to appoint them, and why could they be so important to the future of customer experience management?
In the coming weeks, MyCustomer will explore all of these areas in a series of articles. But first up, we explore what customer journey managers do, and why the role is developing.
What do journey managers do?
Last year, Kerry Bodine & Co. scoured over 400 LinkedIn profiles of professionals who currently hold the position of ‘journey manager’ to learn more about their roles, their skills and the companies that they work for.
The research revealed that while what journey managers do, and what ‘journey manager’ means, can differ from company to company, and from country to country, some key responsibilities were common.
Unsurprisingly, the auditing and mapping of all customer journeys across all channels, was a core responsibility.
The majority of journey managers also reported that their roles are strategic, and that a key part of their work is to define and shape the customer experience strategy across all products, platforms and systems. Further to this is the development of high-level capability roadmaps.
Collaboration is also a core component of the journey manager role, the research found. Bodine explains: “These roles are acting as the glue between different functional and departmental units, which makes sense because the customer journey crosses all of these departments and channels, so having someone who makes sure that all these departments work together is very important.
“For instance, one of the journey managers we examined described their role as being ‘part of the senior leadership team working across departments and with our international functions to build and deliver on a strategic roadmap that enables us to offer exceptional customer experience’.”
Measurement also emerged as a crucial piece of what journey managers are asked to do, including tasks such as optimizing, testing and validating existing customer journeys, implementing multi-variant testing programmes, and using customer insight and data to define new customer experiences.
“One of the big areas right now is the field of journey analytics and journey measurement,” notes Bodine. “It’s really poised to explode as the focus on the journey becomes more and more important.”
One particularly intriguing characteristic of the roles identified by the research was the number of journey managers that were digitally-focused. One sample job description, for instance, was: “I work in the digital channel department where I am responsible for maximising online service journeys from beginning to end.”
Bodine believes this raises some concerns.
“Digital is obviously very important, but having a ‘digital’ journey manager is antithetical to the idea of the customer journey in the first place, because it suggests you’re only going to pay attention to customers when they are interacting with your company digitally – and we know that customers interact across channels that aren’t digital,” she notes. “For example, if a bank is exploring its customer journeys, there are conversations that are going to take place with realtors or partners before a house is bought that are important parts of the journey that aren’t captured in a digital channel or in a digital interaction with a company.
“So that raises the question of the purview of some of these digital journey managers, and my view is that there are going to be limitations with this role, even though I understand the importance of the digital channels.”
Finally, the research also identified that a number of journey managers mentioned agile and lean as part of their responsibilities. Lean and agile management are both steadily growing as areas of focus in customer experience, bleeding into CX via service design where they are already influential. Various disciplines related to lean and agile could prove to be highly valuable as journey managers work as part of continuous improvements group, through the likes of lean six sigma groups and scrum master skills.
Why are journey managers becoming more common?
So, given that we now have a clearer idea about the role and its responsibilities, what is it about journey managers that is making them increasingly appealing to organisations?
While there is certainly an element of bandwagon-hopping involved, reflecting the buzz around everything CX and customer journey-related – and Bodine has identified one tech company that has simply renamed all of their account managers as journey managers in what appears to be a bid to be viewed as more customer-centric – most of the interest is a result of the growing acknowledgement of the power of customer journeys.
When MyCustomer surveyed 250 CX professionals last year, it found that 67% undertake some form of journey mapping - and of those that are not presently mapping journeys, a further third expect to commit to it in the next 18 months. Customer journeys are now an area of significant focus.
“There has been a natural evolution from thinking about customer experiences generally, to then wanting to specifically understand customer journeys, and indeed employee journeys as well to some extent,” says Bodine. “Organisations are really starting to think about the customer journey as being the unit that needs to be managed and measured and they are recognising that this is a way to be more concrete about the way that customer experience improvements can be implemented.”
The task of improve the customer experience can often be daunting for organisations – every single person in the business can influence the customer experience in some way and there can be hundreds of thousands of different types of interactions with all types of customers, so it can appear overwhelming. However, the customer journey is something tangible that can be managed.
The fact that it is measurable is particularly important.
Bodine adds: “If a business decided, for instance, that it wanted to make improvements to its claims process, it can measure customer feedback around its claims journey, and measure internal operational metrics and financial metrics around the journey, and then track them. It is so much more tangible than just saying you’re going to improve customer experience writ large.”
While MyCustomer’s research indicated that journey mapping was being utilised to a lesser or greater extent at around two-thirds of organisations, the findings also indicated that there was no consensus regarding who should take ownership of the task. The appointment of a journey manager would create a clear owner within the business, while also empowering them with enough strategic capability and cross-departmental influence to ensure that internal change is driven as a result of the mapping exercise.
The appeal of the journey manager certainly appears clear.
Having outlined the role and requirements of a customer journey manager, in the next article in the series we’ll explore what organisations are currently employing them – and whether you should too.
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Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.