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Who is hiring journey managers - and should you too?

1st Aug 2019
Managing editor MyCustomer.com
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Research has revealed the types of business that are recruiting the emerging role of journey manager. Would your organisation also benefit from a journey manager?

Last month we explored the emerging role of the journey manager. In the article, we examined the key responsibilities that characterise journey managers, as well as the reason why a growing number of organisations are appointing them.

In this next article, we’re going to use research data to find out the industries and countries that are pioneering journey manager recruitment, and also outline the factors that determine whether or not your organisation should also be seriously considering the appointment of a journey manager.

Helping us lift the lid on this is Kerry Bodine, CEO at CX consultants Bodine & Co. Kerry has been tracking the emergence of this role for some time, and last year conducted global research into journey managers.

So what did she find when examining the kinds of organisations that have appointed a journey manager?

What regions are recruiting journey managers?

In terms of where the global hotspots are for journey manager appointments, there was a surprise in store.  Of the 400 journey managers that were identified by the research programme, three-quarters (77%) were based in Europe, with nearly half (48%) specifically from the UK. But while there were a handful of journey managers on each of the six continents, it was the absence of appointments in the US that really stood out.

“The dearth of roles in the US was really interesting,” says Bodine. “To put it in context, the US and Belgium had the same proportion (6%) of the overall number of journey managers we identified, and the US has something like 26 times the population of Belgium.”

For a country that has been at the vanguard of the customer experience management movement, this was a surprise. However, Bodine believes this reflects the fact that the emerging journey manager role has its roots not in customer experience management but in the discipline of service design, which has flourished in Europe. Bodine notes that when it comes to the origins of customer journey mapping, the first journey map she ever saw was the Starbucks journey map, the work of Shelley Evenson, one of the earliest proponents of the service design discipline and a founding member of the Service Design Network.

“Customer experience and service design are closely related, but it was interesting to see how CX seemed to take a foothold in the US and then expand to Europe and the rest of the world, while service design was the opposite – it took hold in Europe first and foremost. With the exception of Shelley, all the primary thinkers and service design agencies were all over in Europe. And even in the US today, service design is not broadly known or understood.”

Bodine continues: “So given the data that we have found, I personally think that these journey managers are stemming from a service design mindset. In fact, the journey managers that I have seen in the US even almost have a slightly different focus, and are more numbers-oriented than the ones in Europe, and are top executives at top organisations.”

What industries are recruiting journey managers?

Examining the industries that have recruited the role, there is unsurprisingly a strong bent towards companies that are service-based. The biggest sector for journey managers is currently banking and financial services, which overall accounts for a third of the entire roles identified in the study.

Telecommunications, computer software and utilities also had a strong presence. But there are also journey managers in product-focused sectors too, such as apparel & fashion, food & beverages, luxury goods & jewelry, and chemicals.

“The strong adoption by banking and financial services doesn’t surprise me,” says Bodine. “Banking and financial services were some of the first to get onboard in terms of the overall customer experience discipline emerging a decade-plus ago, so there is already a customer focus there. Any complex organisations are also a good fit for journey managers. Banking and financial services are an example. Meanwhile, both telecoms and computer software are complex organisations, so it’s not a surprise that they would look to appoint a journey manager.”

Bodine continues: “The one I am surprised about due to its absence is healthcare. Healthcare in the US is a major focus in terms of the customer experience because of how the industry has changed over the past decade with Obamacare, where healthcare companies essentially didn’t have to compete before, and now that they do they are all hiring customer experience teams. But again, we have so few journey managers in the US at the moment that it may be connected to that.”

Should your organisation appoint a journey manager?

Of course, it’s still early days in the evolution of the journey manager role, so while these trends are interesting from a discipline development point of view, they don’t necessarily demonstrate that the role is more successful in specific industries or regions.

Indeed, Bodine recommends that at the highest level, any large organisation should have one in place.

But there are important considerations that she recommends before organisations rush out to recruit a journey manager role.

“First of all you need to consider whether or not you’re really serious about this,” she explains. “We still see a lot of customer experience teams come and go. There was a case recently at a big billion dollar company when their CX team was wiped off the map when a new executive took over, only for the entire team to be reconstituted about nine months later. We’re still having these types of gyrations around what the role of the CX team is, whether we need it, what they’re doing, and whether the executives buy into it. That is frustrating. But because customer journeys are much more tangible I am hoping that will help and executives will see what the value of this is.

“However, one thing that really doesn’t help, and really confuses organisations is the whole back and forth around roles – changing everyone’s titles to journey managers, then changing them back to account managers, then appointing a chief customer officer, then removing them. It’s exhausting and counterproductive, but worse than that it is also destructive to the organisation and its morale and damaging to employee understanding of what is important to the business. So I would say only do this if you feel you are ready to commit to it.”

And that means making it a full-time role, rather than bolting it on to the responsibilities of an existing employee, recommends Bodine.

“A journey manager is not going to be successful if you give them these responsibilities on top of their day jobs, just the same as when early marketers were given CX responsibilities. If you’re really interested in investing in this role, give the person the opportunity to really do it right. You wouldn’t take a marketer and then tell them that in their evenings and weekends they have to manage an entire product. And this is really the same thing.

“Finally, if you’re going to make the investment you’re going to also demand accountability, so it is really important to know what you want to achieve with the role and put in place KPIs to measure success. Because for this to work it can’t be a fluffy role – it has got to drive value for the business.”

Nonetheless, despite these stipulations, Bodine believes that there is potential for most large organisations to appoint a journey manager in the near-term.

She concludes: “For a start, if your organisation doesn’t have a customer experience team then I would recommend getting a CX team first and focusing on the basics – implementing Net Promoter Score, for instance. But if you already have that in place already, journey managers are really the next natural place to go.”

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