Thursday, February 6, 2014

Journeys, Not Touchpoints

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I named this blog CX Journey™ for a reason - to convey that the the customer experience is just that, a journey.

What does that mean? It means that, while it's important to look at the individual touchpoints, moments of truth, interactions, channels, etc., it's more important to remember the whole journey, the entire experience that the customer has with your brand or organization as he's trying to do whatever job it is he's trying to do.

Focusing on the entire journey, not solely on individual touchpoints, will yield greater results for the customer experience, i.e., it 's much better for the customer. When you just consider touchpoints and single moments of truth, you're focusing on transactional relationships, not on trusted, long-lasting relationships.

Clients often ask if it's OK to only listen to customers at, and improve the experience with, the customer service touchpoint (or any other singular touchpoint). My answer is "No." Why? Because the customer experience isn't about just one touchpoint, it's about all of the touchpoints, all of the interactions, that a customer has with a company. And, for added emphasis, I like to share Chris Zane's quote: Customer service starts where customer experience fails.

Then there are those companies who listen at various touchpoints, think that their customers are happy, and yet still have dismal retention rates. What's going on there? Well, the sum of the individual touchpoints does not necessarily equal the whole. The key here is "individual." Companies are looking at these touchpoints through their silos rather than looking at the big picture and thinking about the customer journey and how all the points connect and interact.

I recently came across a report published by McKinsey that supports this thinking. Of all the content in the report, I particularly liked this chart below that shows that customer journeys are better predictors of key business outcomes than touchpoints.

The report states that companies that focus on customer journeys have the following attributes:
  • Metrics are defined for the journey as well as for the touchpoints
  • Those journey metrics - not just metrics in their control - are shared with the frontline
  • Data cubes bring together business outcomes, attitudinal, behavioral, and operations data for root cause analysis
  • Root-cause problem solving is conducted within and across functions
  • They conduct active tests, e.g., create mini labs to test solutions in cross-siloed environments, and understand the value of failures
  • A common language is used to reinforce the values of a journey-oriented culture
I subsequently found a presentation on Slideshare that further speaks to their findings, including noting that focusing on the journey creates what they call "stacked wins." i.e., improved customer satisfaction, revenue growth, reduced costs, and improved employee engagement. They also expand on the things that companies who get it right do; they...
  • Define a clear, compelling value prop that's delivered through journeys
  • Know that journeys matter and why
  • Continuously innovate end-to-end experiences
  • Use journeys to reinforce frontline culture
  • Optimize operational processes and systems to ensure consistent delivery
  • User journeys to define metrics and their governance system
What can you do? There's no better way to instill "journey thinking" than to create customer journey maps. Look at different customers, different customer needs, different jobs they are trying to do with your company, and how they are trying to achieve them. Journey maps support and facilitate the things that McKinsey says journey-centric companies do. Journey maps are collaborative and shared - they are the one tool that can help breakdown organizational silos and change the corporate mindset from touchpoints and silos to journeys.

It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. -Hemingway


  1. Annette, an interesting perspective and I get it, but I do have a question.

    If you are going to improve the journey don't you have top improve the touchpoints one by one?


    1. Yes, and you'll likely prioritize based on moments of truth and what's most important and impactful for the customer. But the point is to not just focus on one... to think about - and act on - the entire journey.

  2. James - I've seen McKinsey present this research.
    The answer is both YES and NO. Yes you have to improve the touchpoints one by one. But no, you shouldn't improve them just in a shotgun fashion. Their studies have shown that fix one touchpoint at a time doesn't improve the overall experience.

    1. Thanks, Stan. Agreed... different departments will have different initiatives based on what's important to the customer. It's likely that the organization may focus on improving more than one touchpoint at a time.

  3. Annette, James & Stan,
    Is the difference here that journey mapping looks at things strategically and touchpoints involves tactical decisions?


    1. Adrian,

      I think that may be one way of looking at it, that that feels more like the company view than the customer view. But that reminds me of a saying I heard the other day... just a blessing, not a communion.

      Annette :-)