How River Island uses customer journey mapping for retail success

Customer journey mapping
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River Island's head of customer experience explains how the retailer measures, monitors and maps its customer journeys - and how this has driven improvements. 

In MyCustomer’s recent Customer journey mapping research report 2018 it was revealed that almost a third of businesses do not currently undertake any form of customer journey mapping exercise.  

The reluctance, for 54% of those respondents, is borne from a lack of understanding and awareness of the benefits customer journey mapping can bring.        

A third of respondents also reported that they have been hampered by a lack of technology and project ownership in the past.   

So what makes customer journey mapping a success? MyCustomer spoke to one of the study’s more positive respondents, River Island’s head of customer experience, Tim MacIvor, to highlight the UK retailer’s own approach to customer journey mapping, and how it compares with some of the global trends unveiled within the report.       

MyCustomer: Hi Tim. First up, we’d like to know who currently oversees and owns the customer journey mapping process at River Island?

Tim MacIvor: “We actually split the ownership across multiple stakeholders, including UX teams, the contact centre, senior leadership and my team – customer experience.

“The key is to obtain different views and perspectives from all parts of the business and collaborate on solutions that drive the business forward. I’ve only been in the job around a year but journey mapping is fundamentally a part of what we do to continually improve CX at River Island.”

Comparatively, amongst our survey respondents, customer journey mapping is often led by a head of customer experience (or equivalent, such as chief customer officer), with over a third (35%) of those surveyed reporting that they were the project leader.

The second most commonly cited response to this question by our respondents was that there is no single person leading it - nearly a fifth (18%) revealed that they had multiple stakeholders leading their customer journey mapping. Of t

Of those respondents who told us that their journey mapping is led by multiple sources reported some of the most positive results – with 46% describing the impact of journey mapping as “extremely positive”.

MYC: How do you conduct journey mapping exercises?

TM: “It varies. We get together as and when we wish to solve a problem; sometimes it can be a blank canvas for those in the room. Ideation is key.

“The sessions are hands-on: we come together and plot how specific journeys across different channels play out, based on data collected across functions and also from the voices in the room. We discuss how to overcome the specific problems at hand based on the best results for the customers.

“It is time-consuming trying to organise the team because of the many different stakeholders involved, so we need to be very clear about what we are trying to achieve to get the most out of the sessions.

“Our team are also, in the most part, our buying demographic which helps, as they are consumers – they understand the buying process and the difficulties and complexities that come with dealing with a large-scale retailer. We try and establish actions for the company as a result of each session and the opinions in the room.”

MyCustomer’s research found a similar story, with a host of hands-on and digital approaches to designing journey maps themselves. In the information collection phase, the delivery was often tool-based: customer feedback solutions are used by over half (54%), representing a useful way to glean insights to bake into the mapping exercise.

53% also utilise user profiling and/ or segmentation tools as part of the mapping process.

MYC: Are you able to give an example of a specific problem you guys have got together to discuss?

TM: “We have known for some time that our customers demand a multichannel gifting solution, and one of our solutions has been to digitise our gift cards.  By gathering teams from across the business and capturing their different perspectives we have been able to design an iterative, customer-focussed solution that releases business value early whilst also gather insights and providing flexibility as we continue to develop the solution.

“Data is a key component. We are leaning on data from our UX teams, our digital analytics functions and the contact centre to drive our decision-making and for identifying issues that require improvements that can only be borne out of the customer journey mapping process.

“When we’re in a room together it’s very hands on – post-it notes on the wall. We get together and we throw ideas around and the best ideas stick. It’s a cultural and collaborative process; it’s inclusive because there are no right and wrong ideas and there are different people at different levels in the business involved so we get a great mix of ideas and perspectives.”

MYC: What benefits have you seen in the process?

TM: “There are a couple of important benefits that journey mapping is delivering for River Island.  The first is a cultural one, where every person within the organisation, regardless of role, feels like they can voice an opinion and contribute to the company’s success. 

“This creates a great feeling of collaboration and togetherness which, being a family owned business, is already part of our culture. 

“Secondly, it means that the solutions we design are comprehensive as we consider every aspect of the journey before collectively deciding on the overall solution, the priority within the change stack and the speed with which we deliver and release the build.

71% of our research respondents believe that their customer journey mapping projects have led to an increase in customer satisfaction, representing the most common benefit.

However, around half of those questioned who use customer journey mapping also reported that they have enjoyed an increase in Net Promoter Score (53%), a drop in customer complaints (48%) and reduced customer churn (40%).

MYC: Why is the process so important?

TM: “Consistency is the key – having a shared and agreed view of the objective, a shared view of the challenges and a shared view of the opportunities and how we tackle them ensures we deliver an experience that feels uniquely River Island and is appropriate for the customer, regardless of how they interact with us.  

“It’s vital to ensure our customers experience consistency across every interaction they have with our brand – we have multiple channels that serve a variety of demands, so it’s hard to ensure that one experience is the same across those different channels but our brand DNA should be visible across all touchpoints.

“The contact centre team, for example, brings a wealth of experience and a different perspective in terms of the day-to-day opinions our customers have and the enquiry handling they deal with.”

MYC: How do you measure success?

TM: “We don’t have success metrics for the customer journey mapping process itself. We have KPIs associated with NPS, customer satisfaction; conversion; contact centre KPIs that can be attributed to some of the outcomes of the journey mapping process itself.

“It’s predominantly about drawing out knowledge from different parts of the business that can get overlooked but offer great value to achieving our end-goals.”

As a final caveat, customer journey mapping success is often measured by the frequency in which a business undertakes the process. 56% of practitioners who conducted customer journey mapping monthly reported that the programme’s impact is ‘extremely positive’. This drops to 37% for those who conducted it every six months, 22% for those who conducted it annually, and 28% every other year.


Customer journey mapping research report 2018

About Chris Ward

Chris Ward

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.

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