How to get to grips with customer journeys: transcription
This is an audio transcript for the MyCustomer podcast, recorded on 10th October 2019 - How to get to grips with customer journeys
Hello and welcome to the latest edition of the Connecting the Dots podcast from MyCustomer. My name is Chris Ward, and in this episode we’re looking at customer journeys, specifically customer journey mapping and how the process of plotting out your customers’ journeys helps you understand them better and make more informed decisions for the benefit of the experience your customers have with your brand.
I was trying to think of a good example that encapsulates the sentiment of what we’re talking about today, and I couldn’t look any further than everyone’s favourite Swedish home furnishings company, IKEA.
That tongue-in-cheek advert from 2015 highlights a fundamental point about customer journey and journey mapping – that, yes, the process is designed to reveal areas for improvement in your customers experience’, but it can also show you where your customers have most joy with your brand and the things you shouldn’t change. In IKEA’s case, its paper catalogue. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the humble paper catalogue should long have been banished to the great printer press in the sky, but for IKEA it still remains a crucial component of their DNA. Instead of getting rid of it like most other retailers, it forms part of a much more connected journey that spans across an array of different channels – including print!
The point is, these connected customer journeys may be getting less linear and as a result, much more complex, but without getting to the bottom of what those journeys currently look like and what they could look like in the future, you’re never going to be able to influence them effectively.
Luckily, there’s a number of people who can articulate this point better than I can….and I’ve enlisted three of them for this podcast. Starting with the founder of service design consultancy Sedulous, and bone fide journey mapping expert Amy Scott, who I talked to first in order to ascertain exactly what customer journey mapping is, and why it’s important.
Amy Scott: I think of a customer journey map as a way of visually communicating what a customer goes through when they interact with an organisation. They are complex – you need to make sure you look at the journey against the customer lifecycle, which is the end to end engagement and experience a customer has with an organization over time. There’s four stages – the before stage, the buy and begin stage, the own and use stage, and then the big after stage when customers decide whether to stay or leave. Over the course of this lifecycle, customers have different engagement needs, and that’s when customer journeys come in.
MYC: So, Amy, what would you say were the key facets required to map these customer journeys – you’ve mentioned it’s a visualisation process – but what is it the task we’re actually undertaking?
Amy Scott: All journeys are triggered by something. It’s helpful if you can highlight that. You need to highlight who it’s designed for, what the customer is trying to accomplish. The persona of the customer. Then the journey breaks down into individual steps, and for each step you need to understand the backstory, what actions the customer is taking, what their needs are, how they feel about it – their emotions. Customers always remember how they felt about an experience. You then have to cover off the channels and touchpoints they’re using – what’s currently driving experience and the painpoints they’re experiencing. On a to be journey – what changes need to be made to deliver an ‘ideal journey’.
If you want to do this right, it comes down to research. The voice of the customer – outside in perspective; what your customers value, what causes frustration and why. You can’t create ‘to be’ journeys without research from your VoC, VoE programmes. Feedback from surveys, transaction satisfaction response, web chat etc, mystery shopping. Feedback from your customer-facing staff – they have a real pulse and are a great proxy for what’s going on with customers.
MYC: With data clearly playing such a pivotal role in the journey mapping process, now seems like a good time to bring in someone who’s spent over 10 years focused on this very area, specifically the Voice of the Customer programmes Amy mentioned, and how they can help drive more real-time insights into journey mapping.
Claire Sporton: Often what we find is that when organizations build a journey map, they build it from an internal perspective. The role of customer data is to give a reality check – question myths that sit in the organization. If you have a customer journey map but don’t have any data you’re at risk of measuring the internal perspective and not the reality.
MYC: What kind of data to do you typically see businesses leaning on in building that customer journey profile?
Claire Sporton: There’s two types really – you want to know how customers think and feel – the intention piece. Things like how satisfied you were, how likely are you to buy again/ recommend. Often we forget about behavioural data though – rather than looking at intent, let’s look at what customers actually do. What percentage of clients renew contracts with us after going through a specific touchpoint? That’s a really good behavioural data point that can add real depth to a journey map.
One of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is understandin expectations – think about a mini journey, like the claims process in insurance, what is the expectation that a customer comes into that mini journey with, and more importantly, let’s measure our ability to fulfill those expectations and are we missing something
MYC: It would be remiss of me not to ask about Voice of the Customer programmes – increasingly it seems like businesses cant really successfully tie all of their customer data and feedback without an overriding voice of the customer programme supporting it – can you explain how Voc feeds into this process of customer journeys and plotting customer journey maps in general?
Claire Sporton: There’s the first piece when you’re starting the process – any insight you have of customers is key to building the journey map. Step two is about verifying the journey – going out and doing in-depth interviews with customers, testing the journey with them. That’s where VoC really supports customer journey maps. But actually there’s a third point – it’s about monitoring the journey in the longterm and ensuring that you are able to react to how everything is changing around you. VOC is an ongoing monitoring mechanism that you use after discovering those moments of truth in your customer journey.
MYC: So we’ve talked about customer journey maps to ascertain the journeys your customers currently experience, and we’ve looked at the concept of ‘to be’ journeys, or rather collating research and data to inform and improve journeys to be more ideal for your customers; but what about when you’re trying to create a new journey for a product that doesn’t yet exist?
Stacy Sherman: Journey mapping for new products – you’re defining personas and then what the experiences we want customers with that persona to have. You then map that out with different teams, and then you launch with all the different touchpoints, and then once you’ve launched you go back to establish whether the journey you devised is right based on the customer’s actual experience. It’s all about pre and post-launch phases.
MYC: How did you collect the right data for this exercise?
Stacy Sherman: You go to real customers, based on the personas you defined. Demographics, user testing, concept validation, prototype testing. Break it into pieces of the journey; it’s a combination of focus groups, online and offline, feedback; once you launch you go to actual customers and enquire what the journey was like, what they felt and what they thought, and then amend journeys to better fit.
MYC: How often did the actual journey match the perceived pre-launch journey?
Stacy Sherman: Holistically, I’d say it was often on target, but there are components of that journey that were different. For instance, we’d say ‘we expect this type of customer to try and contact us via email’ but then they’d predominantly go to live chat, say, and then we’d have to amend the journey to make live chat more accessible for that persona, that sort of thing. That’s why you have to talk to customers in addition to the voice of the employee, who are close to the customers; it involved both parties.
MYC: As Stacy mentioned to start with, she is now heading up CX in North America for Schindler Elevator Corp, and as a true industry strategist as well as a practitioner, helps share some of her wealth of experience at both Verizon and at Schindler with her mentorship programme, DoingCXRight.com. I wanted to ask Stacy what she typically described as best practice to those she mentored on approaching the journey mapping process for the first time.
Stacy Sherman: Honestly….A lot of people are not familiar with what this all means and sometimes they’re intimidated because they’re not sure what’s right or wrong. I would say, just start with a template that helps you think about what the components are in each section of your journey. It starts with a manual pen to paper. Once you get more sophisticated, you invest in a tool or platform, and automate the process. That’s for down the line – bigger budgets, bigger teams.
MYC: What single bit of advice would you give to others?
Stacy Sherman: You have to just do it – who are the customers, who is the audience, define what the experience is that you want and which your teams can support; then you have to measure it. Don’t fly blind!
MYC: Amy Scott agrees with Stacy, and states that once your research has become sophisticated enough, your journey maps can evolve into new forms.
Amy Scott: One thing I didn’t talk about when talking about research is gathering up all the wonderful customer and employee verbatim and doing something called affinity mapping – helps identify where your painpoints are and where you’re actually acting with best practice. If you use the output of that you can create what I call customer expectation framework. If you know expectations you can identify whether you’re failing, meeting or exceeding expectations; also helps you to remove painpoints and helps your business to improve. Include people from across the business – silos negatively affect customer experience, so bring everyone into the mix in a cross-functional way. Everyone can see how they personally impact on the customer journey. This leads to epiphany moments across the business and helps build a foundation for getting internal buy-in for creating on a vision of what the future could look like for customers.
MYC: Claire Sporton says that this last point comes with a caveat that wherever you are in the journey mapping process, and regardless of how much buy-in you’ve managed to establish from the rest of the business, you must remember that it is a project that doesn’t have an end.
Claire Sporton: You have to make this a living breathing piece of work that people continue to work on. If it’s a once and done that’s great, but you need your journey map to be thought of something that’s ongoing updated in order for it to make genuine cultural changes for your business.
MYC:: And for those that can do this, there are some major benefits to be had.
Amy Scott: Prioritise what needs to be fixed…it helps you to reduce your cost to serve, as you can identify failure demand……..and it helps staff – staff want to make their jobs easier. It helps to identify gaps, improve your value proposition….addressing what really matters to customers. The whole goal is to ensure customers are happier, and then they’re more likely to be more loyal, positive in their word of mouth, and improve revenue. Clear reasons why you need to journey map, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and understand what they’re experiencing, and what’s causing those experiences so you can make them better.
MYC: That’s all we’ve got time for I’m afraid. I’m sure you’ll agree that that was a really interesting discussion and that all of our guests managed to articulate what is normally a really visual process in a very clear and concise way. If you want to learn more about journey mapping please do head over to MyCustomer.com as we have a wealth of resources to help you out. I’ve included a few links in the description page for this podcast.
We’ll be back with another Connecting the Dots podcast in the near future, but until then, thanks again to Amy Scott, Claire Sporton and Stacy Sherman, who were fantastic guests.
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.