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For a business like Starbucks, the product is not the focal point; it is the experience the company delivers say Matt Inman and Nigel Clover.

And Starbucks has a well-mapped journey of what the experience will be like from the moment the customer walks into the store and clearly understands that focusing on the customer experience is not just a corporate tagline for shareholders. It is a business strategy.

The backbone for your successful customer experience program, as in the case of Starbucks, is a thorough understanding of the customer and their experience with the organisation’s brand, people, product and service. This process, popularly known as customer journey mapping map is a visual representation of the customer journey.

Not intended to replace quantitative planning for serving the customer, the map provides a good starting point or supplement to these by illustrating the multiple touchpoints from the customer’s point of view in a way that quantitative data alone can’t do.  Elements captured in the map include key moments for the customer as well as positive and negative components of the experience and the attitudes and emotions that may come into play.

“Journey maps are the backbone

Step One: Build the Company View of the Journey

One of the greatest challenges to any customer experience effort is getting true organisational commitment and buy-in and this is where mapping the customer journey is invaluable. While each functional area and stakeholder will bring a unique perspective to the table, it is critical for the organisation to work from a common vision of the journey.  Measurements, improvements and enhancements must be created using a shared framework.

Mapping the customer’s journey starts with identifying and building out the steps of the journey from the company’s point of view. The next part of the process is to build out the experience of each step in detail. Typically these will include customer’s desired outcomes, emotional responses and needs and the importance and satisfaction with the step.

From this you will be able to highlight any differences in what the customer compared to company stakeholders see as critical moments and evaluation points of the experience. From this customer journey mapping, then, you will be able to create a customer-centric blueprint, showing which customer experiences lead to a decision or behaviour that will impact loyalty and purchasing.

Step Two: Build the Customer View of the Journey

Once the internal stakeholders have created their view of the customer journey, it is time to have the end customer validate this framework. A series of qualitative research sessions are usually helpful for this purpose. In these sessions, customers walk through their version of what the journey looks like, using all the same criteria used by internal stakeholders.

Step Three: Review the Current State

The next phase of the journey mapping process often takes the form of a workshop, during which the customer journey is reviewed to create a common understanding of the customer journey and to identify areas within the area with the greatest opportunity to improve or address.

This step is critical for embedding the journey into the organisation. It involves immersing participants in the qualitative research in a way that helps them step into the shoes of their customer. This process can either validate the current measures or identify current gaps that need to be added to VoC tools.

Step Four: Create Customer Experience Design Criteria

Creating common customer experience design criteria helps prevent organisations from becoming overwhelmed. These criteria are derived from analysing the attitudes, thoughts, emotions and needs at each step in the journey and identifying a few common themes that represent the essence of what the customer needs.

Step Five: Ideate for a Better Customer Experience

The final step is to leverage this insight and engagement into the design of a better customer experience through ideation. Unlike brainstorming, ideation is structured so that it can take participants beyond their current framework of thinking. While ideation is intended to unleash creative thinking, the design criteria help ensure the thinking is focused on what the customer needs and the new solutions to address.

As a result of conducting a thorough customer journey mapping process you will have a more comprehensive understanding of your customer’s experience and will glean insights into how to make the most effective and successful improvements for the benefit of both your customer and your business.

Matt Inman is Senior Director of CX Strategy and Design, MaritzCX and Nigel Clover is VP Business Services Europe, MaritzCX

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