Wednesday, February 27, 2019

On Metrics and Complacency

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for CallidusCloud. It was published on their blog April 19, 2018.

The customer experience is a journey; your transformation work is, too!

I was recently asked for suggestions on how to prevent different business units and divisions within a larger organization from becoming complacent when they are performing well based on their customer experience metrics. In other words, their scores, e.g., NPS, are high, so they act like their goal is met, and there's nothing more that needs to be done about the customer experience.

One piece of advice I have is: never rest on your laurels! Don't ever believe that the experience is "good enough." This is a journey! And there are a lot of reasons that you should keep going and never think that your work is done.

If you do rest on your laurels, you will, without a doubt, be overrun by your competitors. Never mind that your customers will no longer want to do business with you. Remember: it's a journey, not a destination. Here's what happens and why the work is never done:
  • Expectations change. What delights customers today may not delight tomorrow. It's important to always keep your pulse on changing customer needs.
  • Customers change. Old ones go, new ones come along. New ones may have different problems they are trying to solve or jobs to be done.
  • Customer needs, desires, and expectations change. As long as that's happening - and I don't see that every changing - there's no resting on laurels.
  • The business changes. New products are launched. Acquisitions are made.
  • New competitors enter the marketplace, and industry trends emerge.
  • Weak signals become strong signals.
Oh, and one more thing. Not that we're going to blame the survey for your consistently great scores, but how long has it been since you've revisited your surveys? You'll want to make sure you're capturing feedback about: the latest experience (assuming you've improved the experience but haven't updated your surveys), new products and services you've introduced, and emerging customer needs and trends in the industry. Have you looked at verbatims for emerging trends/pain points/weak signals? That's a great place to start.

And those scores, are they for a specific transaction or for the overall relationship? If they’re transactional scores, it’s probably time to look at the big picture and measure how the customer feels about the entire relationship – and not just with that division or business unit but with the entire company. That’s where the rubber meets the road. You are one company/one brand, after all.

Also, is your company metrics-focused or experience-focused? If you're doing what it takes to improve the metric, not the experience, you are advocating a different type of behavior than if you're focusing on improving the experience. Your scores will likely change if you focus on the experience, instead. As the department head or business unit head what he/she has done to improve the experience since the last measurement.

You may also want to re-assess your personas and who you think your customers are today versus who they were when you started listening to them. As mentioned earlier, customers change. Their needs change. The jobs they are trying to do change.

Take a look at benchmarks. How are the scores relative to different business units? How do they stack up against competitors? Look at emerging industry trends relative to your scores. You may think your scores are great in a vacuum, but when benchmarked, you may not look so good. This is an important consideration.

Bring in non-survey customer and industry data and insights - things that will keep you from resting on your laurels. There may be other industry trends and customer needs that could be disruptors, things you haven't even thought about. A phrase I heard the other day... Don't get Blockbuster'd. Ouch.
"Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” said Blockbuster CEO Jim Keyes, speaking to the Motley Fool in 2008. “It’s more Wal-Mart and Apple."
Also, how do your customer retention numbers look? NPS might not be telling the whole story. What do the business metrics tell you?

Similarly, another thing to consider is: what does that metric really mean for the business? To what outcome (financial metric) is it linked? If the score is high, but you haven't taken the time to figure out if it's meaningful to the business in a financial way, it's time to do that analysis.

There are a lot of different aspects to consider before any company can even think about becoming complacent about the customer experience. As I said before, it's a journey, not a destination.

You will never be entirely comfortable. This is the truth behind the champion - he is always fighting something. To do otherwise is to settle. -Julien Smith, The Flinch

Thursday, February 21, 2019

How to Improve Your Conversion Funnel with a CX Design Update

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share another guest post by Lexie Lu of Design Roast.

How do you turn site visitors into raving fans? You spend a lot of time and money driving traffic to your website and reaching out to new potential customers. Once they land on your site, it needs to finish the work you started and convert a high number of visitors into customers. However, your conversion funnel may be lacking, creating a problematic customer experience (CX) rather than a positive one.

Only 22 percent of business owners like their conversion rates - the other 78 percent seek improvement but aren't always sure where to start.

Fortunately, there are some clear CX design updates that improve your overall conversion rates and funnel site visitors through the areas you want them to go.

1. Know Your Audience
"Know your audience" is advice you'll hear over and over again. It is one of the first things you should do before working on your customer experience. How can you improve your website and make it user-centered if you don't know who your customers are?

Start by digging into your website analytics through tools such as Google Webmaster Tools. Look at various complaints your customers filed with you that are related to their experience on your website. Poll your customers and do split testing to see at what point in your sales funnel customers leave your site.

Armed with this knowledge, move forward and improve the rest of your conversion funnel on your site with a customer-based approach that turns visitors into fans of your brand.

2. Improve Your Headline
When a visitor lands on your page, is it obvious what your purpose is? Your landing page headline turns up in search engines, appears on social media posts, and sums up the main topic. Your headline should entice readers to visit your page, explain its unique purpose, and sum everything up in a handful of words.

Researchers found some phrases work better than others for headlines. For example, the phrase "will make you" had more than twice the engagements on Facebook as other phrases.

3. Declutter Your Page
Do you want visitors to take action once they land on your page? Streamline your design and remove any clutter. Over time, designers add various elements and features, but this creates a cluttered look and confuses readers as to the purpose of the page.

Sum up the singular purpose of your landing page - perhaps collecting user emails or sending the visitor to a shopping page. Remove anything that doesn't point the user toward the goal.

4. Gain User Trust
Consumers are less trusting than ever before. A recent survey shows that people's trust in business, government, NGOs, and media is in a sharp decline. Gaining the confidence of site visitors is more difficult than ever before.

One of the best ways to show consumers you're trustworthy is transparency. Explain your return policies clearly, for example. Consumers also look at how professional your design is and how easy your site is to use. Broken links or nonworking forms harm trust levels. Include any prominent organization memberships or BBB ratings, as well.

5. Voice Search
The use of voice-based search exploded in recent years, thanks to devices such as Alexa and Google Home. Around 20 percent of American adults own a voice-enabled speaker.

Improve the experience of those tapping into this new technology by enabling voice search on your website. Voice search also makes your site more accessible to those with vision impairments.

6. Find Pain Points
Identify the main problems your typical buyer faces and address the issue on your landing page. Convert visitors by offering a simple solution to their problem.

The needs of your customers are what drives them to your site in the first place. Address the need and offer a solution, and they're more likely to convert into customers. Address needs on your landing page before the user reaches your call-to-action (CTA) button.

7. Keep Old Customers Engaged
Although new customers drive growth in your company, your old customers are far more valuable. Improving customer retention by a mere 5 percent ups your profits as much as 25 percent. Current customers often spend more than new ones per transaction, too.

A smart conversion strategy considers both old and new customers and treats them equally in importance. You may require more than one landing page to address the needs of both current and potential customers fully.

Add a community area for current customers and provide a login as a perk of remaining loyal. Offer specials and deals no one else gets, such as discount codes and first looks at new products.

8. Personalize Calls to Action (CTAs)
Your CTAs should speak directly to individual site visitors. Personalized CTAs have approximately 202 percent better conversion rates than basic CTAs. Adapt the CTA based on the visitor's geographic location, the language they speak, or if they've visited your site in the past.

Even the language of your CTA has an impact on your conversion rates. Use first-person language for a more-personal feel.

9. Confirm Orders
One of the essential elements in your conversion process is a follow-up. Once a customer places an order with your site, they want to know their order went through and what the next step is. If engagement is one of your goals as a brand, order confirmation emails have a 70 percent open rate.

Include a message that lets the user know the order went through, and follow up with an automated email. Keeping new customers informed about where they are in the ordering and shipping process builds trust and increases the chances they'll do business with you in the future.

Improving the Conversion Funnel
Every little change to your landing page that enhances the customer experience gives you a better chance of converting visitors into customers. Customer acquisition is about far more than merely getting an order from a new person. A strong CX strategy includes changes to your site's design and a focus both on gaining new customers and keeping them as lifelong fans of your brand.

Lexie is a web designer and typography enthusiast. She spends most of her days surrounded by some HTML and a goldendoodle at her feet. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and follow Lexie on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

You Can Lead a Horse to Insights...

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Is your customer experience transformation work stuck at good intentions?

One of the biggest showstoppers in customer experience transformations today is execution - actually, it's the lack thereof. You've got a ton of data, insights, and intentions, but action is the key - and it's not happening. Customers can feel it.

No brainer, you say? Not so fast. If it was a no brainer, would I call it one of the biggest showstoppers today? I think not. You know it's a problem!

Execution is critical. I talk about the proverbial "lead a horse to water and make him/her drink" conundrum regularly with clients.

For starters, at the root of - and the catalyst for - this needed and necessary action and execution is customer understanding. Customer understanding is the cornerstone of customer-centricity and the foundation for the transformation work that lies ahead. But if you don't do anything with what you've learned, it's all quite pointless. You're wasting everyone's time. So I question how companies even get this far, and I fear the answer is a focus on the metrics. Or siloed good intentions.

Awareness and understanding are only 50% of the solution. The other 50% is using what you know to make improvements, aka execution.

So, what's holding you back? Why can't you act on the findings?

Think about this quote from General Eric Shinseki: If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.

Yikes! We already see this happening with plenty of brands and industries. Don't get Blockbuster'd. You've got the data and the insights in front of you. Don't become irrelevant! Use them! Innovate. Disrupt. Fight to stay relevant.

OK, let's get practical for a few minutes. What's it going to take to go from insights to action - and better yet, insights to advantage?

Here's the solution: it's going to take a mindset shift. From one of inaction to one of action. You've got to think differently! Again, what's got you/your company stuck? Why? How can this change?

Do you want to be an agent of change or an agent of complaint? Do you want to be a change leader and executor or do you want to just sit on your hands and hope for change, hope for the best?

So, that's the answer?

Well, let's think about this for a minute. I can give you all of the steps that you'll need to execute (and I will do that in just a moment), but I suspect you already know some or many of these things. So, I can just keep writing and preaching, and you can just keep reading. And doing nothing.

Or, you can shift your mindset (and the organization's mindset) to one that's action oriented - and go and do it. You have to want to do it. (Maybe it's not "you" per se, but the one in your company that makes the decision and assigns the resources to move from intentions to execution.) What do they say about happiness? It comes from within. Well, so does the desire to do anything. You've got to decide and commit. And just do it.

What's that going to take? Some folks need more convincing than just a rah-rah "change your thinking." Typically the following help to shift the mindset to one of "let's do this" - and actually making the changes. Know that you may get pushed outside your comfort zone. Which of these will help you?
  • I've got to see and hear the evidence. Why should I do this? What's the pain point for me? for the business? What's the burning platform? What happens if I don't change or don't fix the pain point? I need to know the business case for the change. Tell me a compelling change story. Convince me.
  • Any information about the needed change has to speak my language and motivate me. What do I need to see in the data that moves me?
  • What's the CX vision? It will guide my thinking, and it will guide the change process. But I need to know it and understand it. Supplement that with the change vision.
  • You've got to earn my trust. Is this just another flavor of the month change initiative? Or are we in this for the long haul? Show me. Prove it to me.
  • You've got to involve me. You pulled together the data and the insights; don't just force this work on me. I need to feel like I'm part of the decision and part of the solution. This will help me own it and want to do it. When I know why I'm involved, I'll be more likely to step up, commit, and help ensure we execute properly. Force it on me, and I'll push back.
  • Talk to me. Listen to me. Let me ask questions. Help me understand. Keep the lines of communication open.
  • Give me something to measure myself by. I want to do the best work possible; if I have metrics that I can track, I'll be able to own it.
  • Empower me. You want me to do the work. Give me the information I need to do it, and just set me free. Assure me that I'll get to work with the teams that need to make things happen, and don't micromanage. You gave me metrics; I'm tracking toward those.
  • Nudge me, but give me freedom of choice. I'm fine if you hold out some carrots to point me in the right direction and get me to drink, but allow me to still choose the best course of action. Again, metrics.
A mindset shift isn't a bad thing; don't let anyone tell you that it is. Sometimes, it's a necessity. But as you can see, mindset shifts are all about information and understanding: You can't be kept in the dark. Tell me, and I'll understand. I can get on board if I'm in the know.

Now, that begs the question about those who are in the know: why don't they execute? First, they have to be the right people to execute. Then, I suppose that if they are and haven't, that would require a behavior shift, from inaction to action. Even that shift must happen in the mind. It comes from within.

Now what? If you're in the know and on board with making the change, it's time to get to work. Here are some things to get you going - and keep you moving forward.
  • Don't get stuck in analysis paralysis. Identify a problem and move on to the next step.
  • Don't feel like you need to boil the ocean. Pick one thing. Focus on one thing and see that through, for starters.
  • Know what needs to be fixed. Conduct a root cause analysis to ensure you change the right thing, that you fix the root of the problem.
  • Design the new experience. Design the new processes to support the new experience.
  • Develop a project plan for each change initiative. What are the steps and the milestones to achieve the goal?
  • Conduct a pre-mortem. Identify risks and obstacles. Sometimes these are the things that deter people from executing. Find out what these things are. And then devise a plan for how to get ahead of these things.
  • Identify your objectives and your success metrics.
  • Make sure they are linked to the desired outcomes - for the business and for the customer.
  • Develop your lead measures. What will you be doing in the coming week? How will you ensure that you do these things?
  • Assign ownership. Who owns each step of the plan?
  • Accountability. Who and how will you hold the owners accountable to achieve these things every week? And what are the repercussions for not achieving them?
  • Pilot and test the changes. Test and fail fast.
  • Implement the fix or the change. Roll it out to employees and to customers.
  • Recognize and reward milestones and successes.
  • Measure and monitor.
Strategy, meet execution.

Holistically, you've got to ensure the following big picture items are in place as part of your customer experience strategy. Organizational change doesn't happen by one person; it takes a village.
  • A governance structure that includes an executive committee that provides approval and oversight, as well as drives accountability;
  • Activation of your base, also part of your governance structure, because the work must be dispersed across the organization; and
  • A change management process that outlines the basics that must be in place to go from current state to future state.
Be a change leader. Create the CX vision (and then the strategy to implement it). Communicate the vision. And get folks on board to deliver it. Not everyone will be a change leader, but there are roles for others, such as subject matter experts, storytellers, customer champions, etc. Showcase those who are on board. Talk about the pockets of change success that are happening around your organization. Get people excited and motivated to be a part of the future of your business.

Of course, there's one more shift that has to happen, and it's a big one: execution is a culture shift. If it's not part of your culture today, it needs to be. If you work for a company where ideas remain ideas, data remains data, etc., then your culture is not one of execution. Do any of your core values scream - or at least hint at - "get shit done!?" If not, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate.

The first step after you lead the horse to water is to answer this question: why won't the horse drink? So answer this: What's got you stuck? Why can't you execute? Is it fear? Is it complacency? What is it? There is no remedy or solution to move you to act until you can identify the reason you're not acting or executing. After that, I think the things I've outlined here will help the majority of you get onto the right path.

Update 2/20/19: I just saw this Stephen Covey quote in an article I was reading: Everything starts with the individual because all meaningful change comes from the  inside-out. Systemic organizational change can’t happen without changes in individual  behavior.


Genius is in the idea. Impact, however, comes from action. -Simon Sinek

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Have You Digitized Your Journey Map?

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Do you know why it's important to digitize your journey maps?

In the past, I've written about some of the myths of journey mapping. One of those myths was:

Without a digital mapping platform, I can't even begin to map.

You probably know by now that I'm an advocate of digitizing your maps, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it checks the box for the basic tenets of mapping, including maps must be:
  • created collaboratively, with customers and with other stakeholders
  • shared with the employees who impact the journey that was mapped
  • updated to always reflect the current state of the experience
  • communicated by using them as onboarding and training tools for your organization
  • brought to life with data and artifacts
  • validated by customers, if you started with assumptive maps
  • actionable, meaning they must include enough detail and data to not only truly understand what's going well and what's not but to also be able to identify the moments of truth

Let me go back to the myth for a moment: Without a digital mapping platform, I can't even begin to map.

You absolutely can map without a digital platform; as a matter of fact, I often like to start my journey mapping sessions with butcher paper and sticky notes because it gets people: out of their seats and involved; up and thinking; and collaborating, questioning, and learning. It's more of a design-thinking, creative approach.

But you can't stop there. I think this is often why maps fail. Digitizing your maps makes all of those basic tenets possible. Some digital platforms offer features that allow you to assign ownership and to develop actions plans to ensure accountability for making improvements and driving change. No more maps rolled up under your desk or stored in a closet! Of course, you must take that step to transfer from analog to digital, but that's fairly straightforward.

I'm often asked about journey mapping platforms: which one to use, capabilities to consider, etc. Think about what you want your platform to be able to do. Here are just some of the questions your should be asking:
  • Is it flexible, allowing you to adjust the columns and the swim lanes?
  • Can you map actual customer steps, not just stages and touchpoints? 
  • Does it allow you to capture not only what the customer is doing but also what the customer is thinking and feeling?
  • Can you display the persona for which you are mapping right there with the map?
  • Are you able to bring data into the map? Is it connected to or integrated with a VoC platform or a CRM system?
  • Are you able to analyze the maps and prioritize moments of truth within the platform? 
  • Does it help you take the map from tool to process?
  • Can you assign tasks and owners?
  • Does it allow you to create action plans?
  • Is it collaborative? Can others view/edit the maps?
  • Does it have validation capabilities, often in the form of an integrated online community platform or survey platform?
  • Can customers add comments, video, or pictures to help bring the journey to life?
Regarding which one to use, here are a couple of informative sources to help you get started.
An important thing to note is this: Just because you've mapped doesn't mean your done. The map is really just the beginning. It should be detailed enough to help you understand the current state experience and to identify what's working and what's not. From there, you must do the work. You have to conduct root cause analysis, prioritize moments of truth, design the future state experience, test the new experience, and fail fast. Do it again.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Get mapping!

Man is always inclined to be intolerant toward the thing, or person, he hasn't taken the time adequately to understand. -Robert R. Brown

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Customer Personas - The What, The Why, and the How

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Today I'm pleased to share a guest post by Stacy Sherman. This post originally appeared on the DoingCXRight blog on July 10, 2018.

Whether you're new to CX or looking to expand your current knowledge, it is important to learn about what, when, and how to develop personas so that you can serve your customers better. Knowing what personas are not is equally important to create desired outcomes versus hinder them. Let’s begin by defining:

What is a Customer Persona?
In basic terms, it is simply a semi-fictional model that includes characteristics and mental models of target buyers. When developing customer personas, you need to thoroughly research and document all insights about them so you can create experiences that enable them to accomplish their goals and choose your products over competitive offers.

Customer Personas are Not...
A Replacement For Market Segmentation. Think of market segmentation as a BROAD view. It is a way to divide customers into groups that can be targeted by demographics (i.e. age, race, religion, gender, ethnicity, income), psychographics (i.e. social class, personality characteristics), behavioral patterns (i.e. spending, usage) and geography (i.e. customer locations). Personas are formed by leveraging segmentation information, and are not based on a “one size fits all” mindset.

Buyer Journeys. Personas define WHO you are designing products, services, market messaging for. It is not about mapping out desired customer experiences across all  channels and touchpoints.

Based on a single observation. Understanding a particular customer experience (what went wrong or well) can be useful to inform business decisions, however, it cannot be generalized for an entire group of buyers.

Documented one time. Customer needs and interactions with brands are changing as well as their expectations as technology advances. Persona development is an evolution that needs to be reviewed, updated (small tweaks, not necessarily a complete redo) and communicated throughout organizations periodically.

Based on assumptions. Research is an important part of making personas “real.” Interviewing and surveying customers are effective methods of learning what drives your target audience and appeals to them. There are more ways to gain customer insights, which I will share in upcoming articles.

Constructed for every customer. You can’t please everyone, so prioritize and focus on the top buyers who provide the highest revenue potential.

Based on one “right way.” There is no single correct method to developing personas. Yet, it does need to include certain components to help teams understand essential information about customers and target prospects. As a general rule, you want to keep your document to one page. If it’s too long, you likely did not focus on the most important points, and stakeholders may not read it. Key elements include:
  • Who are typical customers? What do they do? Typical day?
  • What are their frustrations, pain points and challenges?
  • What are happy / satisfying moments? What does success looks like?
  • What are their goals. What do they want to accomplish?
  • What are they saying? (quotes/verbatims)
  • Photographs to “humanize” customers

When to Create Personas?
Persona development typically occurs at very early stages of new product development and marketing launches. It needs to happen before journey mapping activities begin, as maps are created from persona documents. Personas need to be referenced throughout the project lifecycle so that decisions consistently address customer needs.   

Why Develop Customer Personas?
  • Help identify what problems to solve for when developing new products, services, and capabilities.
  • Enable marketers to tailor content and messaging. A business executive, for example, relies on different sources of information for learning about brands and has different buying criteria than a technical IT Manager.
  • Drive internal employee alignment. Including cross teams in the persona development process is an effective way to create a more customer-centric organization.  
How to Build Your CX Skills?
  • Take a course at a prestigious institution, such as Rutgers University, who offers an affordable online and offline certification course. (Read about my experience here.)
  • Observe and learn from companies who are DoingCXRight. Hubspot shares a great article about “7 Companies That Totally ‘Get’ Their Buyer Personas.”
  • Watch informative videos. I especially like this one by Gregg Bernstein, as he visually shows what persona development is all about in a simple, creative way. 

Stacy Sherman is Head of Customer Experience and Employee Engagement for Schindler Elevator. Learn more about Stacy here

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Using Journey Maps to Tell the Customer’s Story

Image courtesy of Pixabay
I originally wrote today's post for Story of Business. It appeared on their blog on August 3, 2018.

Stories are a wonderful communication tool and a powerful teaching tool. They allow you to deliver a message in a way that engages the audience, helps them understand the characters in play, and, hopefully, inspires them. People tend to connect to stories and, therefore, remember them and the message they convey.

Customer experience professionals use storytelling to gain buy-in and commitment from their audiences (typically executives, as well as employees) and to deliver impactful emotional and rational perspectives and messages, thereby capturing both the hearts and minds of the intended audience. When they tell the customer’s story, they paint a picture of who the customer is, what problems she’s trying to solve, and the experience the company puts her through in order to solve her problem. They end up taking the audience on a journey, the customer's journey, and it humanizes the customer experience for the audience.

One of the best tools available to develop and to tell that customer story is journey mapping.

What’s journey mapping?

It’s a creative process in which you illustrate not only the steps customers’ take as they interact with your brand to achieve some task but also their needs along the journey and the emotions elicited by each step of the journey. Said another way, journey maps depict a timeline of what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling throughout each interaction with a brand. They tell the story of the customer’s journey as she interacts with the brand, helping to build empathy for her and struggles she endures as she journeys to her desired outcome. And the maps also help you co-create better experiences with your customers.

Journey mapping is a learning exercise. Journey maps tell the story from the customer perspective, not the company’s, so it forces the company to focus on the customer. As a result, companies learn about: their customers, the experience they put them through to interact with the business, and how well (or not) they perform along the journey.

Done right, maps help companies in many ways, including to…
  • Understand experiences. You can’t transform something you don’t understand, is what I like to say. Maps bring understanding. They highlight and diagnose existing issues and opportunities; at the same time, they capture what’s going well, too.
  • Design experiences. Once you understand the current experience and moments of truth, maps help you prioritize and rethink existing processes and/or create new ones.
  • Implement and activate new experiences. The maps become blueprints or statements of direction for the work to be done to improve and to redesign the experience.
  • Communicate and share experiences. Maps are great communication and teaching tools. They can be used during onboarding, training, and other ongoing education opportunities to unite the organization around the customer, to teach employees about the current and the future experience, and to further ingrain the customer-focused culture of the business.
  • Align the organization. Use the maps to get executive commitment for the CX strategy, get organizational adoption of the customer-centric focus, provide a line of sight to the customer for employees, and help employees understand how they impact the experience.
How should you start to tell this story?

With the characters, of course. Who are they? Whose story are you going to tell? Identify the characters of your story; in other words, start by identifying the persona for which you’ll map a journey. A persona on its own tells a story – by definition, it is a story about the customer, who she is, what her needs are, what problems she is trying to solve, how she prefers to interact with the company, and more. You will create journey maps for each persona: different stories – different experiences – for different customers.

Next, choose which story – or the scope of the story – you’ll tell; in other words, determine which interaction or which journey you will map. Choose some Point A to Point B, a clear start point and a clear end point, for the story. You will typically select known issues or pain points – for the customer and for the business – that are low-hanging fruit to start with; next, you might select journeys based on areas of importance to your customers during which your company’s performance is known to be less than optimal (based on customer feedback).

And last, but not least, identify the objectives and the desired outcomes. Why are you mapping? What business problems are you trying to solve? What value will the map bring to the organization? What are the intended outcomes? What changes will you make as a result of its findings? And, is the organization prepared to make those changes? Is the organization ready to hear this story?

Initial journey mapping considerations in a nutshell: Whose story is it? What story are you going to tell? Why this story? Why is it important? And what will you do with what you learn from this story?

The maps themselves, when developed correctly, bring the story to life, in a couple different ways:
  • You walk in your customer’s shoes. The map captures the steps – in detail – that the customer takes for a specific interaction with the company.
  • You understand, relate, and instantly build empathy for the customer. How the customer feels about each step is highlighted on the map, ensuring that the audience knows where the high points and the pain points occur and building empathy along the way.
  • You see the data that supports what the customer is telling you. Customer feedback is also incorporated into the map, adding broader, quantitative data and perspectives to the story.
  • Artifacts add visualizations that support what the customer/journey map is telling us. Artifacts include video, audio, pictures, documents, and any other item that might help the audience understand exactly what happened at each step.

I’m simplifying the process quite a bit, but once we know the current story of the customer’s experience, we can then move into writing their future story, i.e., designing the experience of tomorrow. During future state mapping, customers tell us the story of the ideal experience they’d like to have going forward. We incorporate their ideas into the map and take those back to the group who will need to consider the feasibility of transforming those ideas into the new experience.

The journey map – the story of the customer’s experience – is shared with the organization to:
  • help employees understand the customer and her interactions with your company
  • show employees how they impact the customer and the experience
  • convey the importance of being a customer-focused and customer-centric organization
  • align around a common cause and a common purpose
  • break down silos by highlighting how various departments are involved in any one interaction a customer has with the organization
  • build empathy and understanding for the customer
  • achieve a single view of the customer, and
  • improve the customer experience

When the story is created, told, and shared, the business has the information it needs to be more proactive in developing products, processes, and services that better meet their customers’ needs.

There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place. -J.K. Rowling