In the past year, we have seen an increasing number of organizations undertaking customer journey mapping programs.

When we refresh existing CJM programs, we are surprised to find that a significant proportion of them had not been relying on the customers’ voice to understand how customers go about learning, choosing and experiencing their company’s products and services. While this statistic is based on a qualitative assessment, as many as half of the CX leaders we work with, admit to not infusing their customers’ perspectives into their customer journey mapping (CJM) engagements.

According to a McKinsey article* maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential not only to increase customer satisfaction by 20 % but also to lift revenue by up to 15 % while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20 %.”

Six Key Reasons

Here are six key reasons why it is important to leverage the voice of the customer in evaluating assessing their overall journey:

  1. Removing Bias: Relying on stakeholder discussions alone can lead to subconsciously playing into personal biases. For e.g. a stakeholder who has ownership over the claims department of an insurance company may want to believe that is the most important area of focus of the customer relationship because of their extensive experience in that aspect of the relationship. However, an objective analysis may suggest that only a small proportion of about a tenth of their customers ever go through that experience.
  2. Ensuring a holistic representation: From our experience, the customer journey starts much earlier than is typically anticipated by our clients as well as researchers. For e.g. the journey of someone buying a Mercedes may start way before they ever set foot inside a dealership. Online research, word of mouth, a test drive on a friend’s car, and several other events could precede the first dealership experience and the only way to flush these steps out is by asking customers about their experiences.
  3. Ensuring Customer Engagement: The earlier you bring customers into the feedback loop, the more they will value your brand’s commitment to improve their experience. An entirely internal exercise takes away the opportunity to engage your customers early in the feedback process and learn about their expectations and how they could impact future results.
  4. Capturing Customer Context: If future research is to be based off any CJM activity, there is no substitute for framing questions around known customer issues and experiences in the words of the customer. CJM activities with customers ensure that future research is not only focusing on the right topics but also being asked in a way that will be readily understood by customers so that you can get the most relevant and actionable responses.
  5. Ensuring Representation of Different Segments: Not every customer’s experiences are the same. Different segments of your customers may need to follow different processes to accomplish the same mission. For e.g. frequent flyers and business class passengers may have experiences with lounges and early boarding that may not be a relevant experience for other passengers. While this is a fairly obvious consideration, differences can be more subtle for segments such as frequent grocery store shoppers versus those who buy in bulk, or for international vs. in state vs. out of state prospective students of a university.
  6. Garnering Corporate Support: Executive buy-in is often a key challenge for getting the budget to do large CX activities. While a bit circular in reasoning, up front customer feedback initiatives that enable the ‘humanizing’ of customer segments to tell customer stories in their own words, help executives visualize the work that needs to be done to resolve key customer issues or to understand their needs further.

In closing

We understand that companies’ CX teams experience challenges to getting up-front, exploratory customer experience work approved and executed due to budgetary reasons. It can be quite expensive to recruit for and execute journey mapping exercises with customers, especially when several segments and cities need to be represented in the mix, but the downside to not doing so could mean a program not reflective of actual experiences on the ground.

There are a few ways to control costs of such exercises, like executing online, or in targeted phases, or utilizing existing resources such as company office space as the location of such journey mapping sessions.

For ideas on what such a program could include, here is a link to our quick start programs which explore different combinations of services and deliverables that can serve as a good guide of the scope and budgets of such programs.

By Sharan Duggal, Vice-President Research.

*The three Cs of customer satisfaction: Consistency, consistency, consistency” McKinsey’s Article March 2014