Your Customer Experience is Only as Strong as the Weakest Link

Today’s post is by guest blogger Annette Franz; her post is a modification of one that appeared on CX JourneyTM on January 7, 2014.

Where are you on your customer experience journey? Well down the path or just starting? Regardless of where you are, I know journey maps are in your future.

Let’s start with some basics, first.

What is a journey map? In simplest terms, it’s a way to walk in your customer’s (or employees’, partners’, etc.)  shoes and chart his course as he interacts with your organization (channels, departments, touchpoints, products, etc.) while trying to fulfill some need or do some job.  It allows you to identify key moments of truth and to ensure that those moments are executed delightfully. The map is created from his viewpoint, not yours. It’s not linear, and it’s not static. But it is the backbone of your customer experience management efforts.

Consider for a moment you want to go to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee. Your journey is not as simple as “want coffee – get coffee” or “get coffee – drink coffee.” No, there’s more to it than that, but hold that thought for a moment.

Why do you need a customer journey map? I believe customer journey maps provide clarity for the organization. There are a ton of benefits, including (to name just a few):

  • getting organizational buy-in for customer focus and customer centricity
  • understanding your customer and his interactions with your organization
  • aligning the organization around a common cause
  • helping employees see how they contribute to the experience
  • training employees on what it means to deliver a great experience
  • speaking a universal language (customer)
  • breaking down organizational silos
  • getting a single view of the customer
  • improving the customer experience

If you’re looking for a way to simply explain journey mapping to the folks within your organization, I stumbled upon a video a couple months ago that I think is quite helpful:

Recall the scenario I mentioned earlier about going to get coffee. In the video, the folks at Stanford outline the journey to get coffee. While some of the initial steps in the coffee journey have nothing to do with the coffee shop, they are still important steps. Why? Well, there are many choices for coffee, so when your experience is so great that the customer doesn’t mind walking the extra block or sitting through one more traffic light, you win. It’s also critical to remember that the experience doesn’t just happen at touchpoints; often what happens between the touchpoints is just as impactful, if not more so.

The video clearly demonstrates how the journey for a job a customer needs to do – whatever it is – is not as simple as going from point A to point Z. There’s point A and point B and point C and point D and more, perhaps even circling back to point C before going all the way to point Z. Mapping the journey forces you to think about all of those points and to learn how you are performing at each one. As they say, your experience is only as strong as your weakest link. Identify the point of failure. Fix it. Monitor it.

If you’ve already created maps, then it’s time to dust them off and update them.  Remember, they are living, breathing documents.

If you’ve never created a map, it’s time to do it – and then show it to your executives. Help them understand the journey your customers are taking in order to do what they are trying to do. I wonder how many of the execs will be surprised at how many steps are – or how much pain is – involved in interacting with your company?