As customer expectations increase, businesses are repositioning their services to be more integrative – leading to better customer experiences, benefiting both customers and the business’ bottom-line.
A key part of improving the customer experience is looking at the customer journey, giving businesses a thorough understanding of how customers interact with their brand. Customer journey mapping is a customer centric tool that has completely shifted the paradigm from an inside-out to an outside-in comprehension of the customer’s experience.
The relationship between customers and businesses has evolved tremendously. Businesses are repositioning their services to be more integrative, leading to better customer experiences. This new approach allows for a deeper understanding of the brand and customer’s interaction, which ultimately benefits both the customer and the business.
In order for businesses to successfully make the shift from customer service to customer experience they ideally should have a wholly holistic view of that experience, from the first to the final touch points. Enter customer journey mapping (CJM). CJM enables you to get an outside-in comprehension of your customer’s needs and a proper understanding of what the customer experience is and where the re-design needs lie.
CJM is powerful because, simply, it gives businesses the customer’s viewpoint, not the corporate one. “For years, the dominant mindset has been inside-out thinking, in other words what the business believed the customer needed. CJM has turned this around by enabling companies to explore the customer’s perceptions by literally and metaphorically being in their shoes,” says Alan Pennington, an exclusive partner with leading South African client experience company nlighten.
Through the CJM process, you can capture a multitude of activities including ones that would never appear when looking at the customer experience from an internal point of view. This may be because, for example, the company has no direct control or influence over them – such as word of mouth.
Having the customer’s point of view is also an asset when it comes to highlighting the emotional state that drives their decisions in the purchase process. Too often overlooked by the inside-out view – which assumes that customers react rationally – is the persona of the customer and their emotional state linked to behavior. These are invaluable insights for businesses that wish to amplify and improve their customer experience.
“Essentially a CJM is a model – an illustrated guide to all the customer’s touch points in your business,” explains Pennington. “When built properly, using the right data, a CJM will show what changes need to be made in terms of product, user experience (UX), marketing and design.”
CJM should integrate all channels your business employs: digital, in-house, showrooms, call-centres and more. Businesses often neglect to find the golden thread that makes the experience consistent regardless of the channel, which is where an illustrated model that gives a wholly holistic view becomes useful.
This IKEA CJM is a powerful but simple example of an effective CJM. It clearly highlights the touch points and how they sit with the customer, and such it shows where improvements are necessary and where IKEA needs to maintain status quo.
CJM also enhances the links and inter-dependencies that exist between departments, especially those that have an influence on customer (even departments that don’t have any direct contact with customers). For instance, the HR department is responsible for hiring and training staff to be able to deliver the required behaviour when interacting with customers, so although they don’t have any direct contact with customers, they are an important part of the customer’s experience.
Including managers and teams from all departments is key in the evolution of the customer experience as including all levels means that the company as a whole is more likely to embrace the customer agenda as part of the business strategy.
Even though this tool is very powerful, it is important to remember it is just the first step to understanding and thus rebuilding your customer experience. Once the holistic view has been achieved it is up to the business to implement real change. This is where they will see bottom-line growth.