To be very clear: every company should know how their customers interact with them.
Having said this, it is also true that customer journey mapping should never be something you do as an end-goal or a stand-alone project. There should be a vision on what to do with the outcome and a clear willingness to act. We strongly believe that every company will benefit from putting understanding their customer on their roadmap for the coming year as a vital part of their business strategy. Knowing your customer through-and-through will save you time and resources when developing new services, features, touchpoints, processes, etcetera, and, as such, it should be part of every discussion when you are considering moving into a new direction – no matter how small the change.
Mapping the customer journey is something you should never do as a stand-alone project.
Mapping the customer journey, describing the interactions with your customers and really getting to know them, should always be part of the bigger picture. It allows you to see the journey your customer goes on when interacting with you. It is a means to make the communication more personal, to take your conversation to the next level. Customer journey mapping should not be something you put a lot of effort in, only to let it disappear into a big black hole somewhere inside your company’s universe, never to be used as input for next steps…
So, if you want to start of a Customer Journey mapping project because it’s hip and fashionable, because everybody does it or because your boss asked you to do so without any follow up planned, please don’t bother! Then it is just a waste of time, money and resources and leads to a lot of frustration. Plus, it jeopardizes all future chances of doing it again, since you will keep on hearing ‘yeah, we did that once, did not work, will not do it again.’
If you want to start of a Customer Journey mapping project because it’s hip and fashionable, please don’t bother!
At least, not yet. Prepare it well, sit down and ask yourself and your company what you want to get out of it, what your goal is and why you really want to do this. Please also check if there is a willingness and budget to give it a follow up, because, don’t be mistaken, this is not something that is done in half a day, nor is it something you should do ‘on the side’.
Building personas, defining the full set of touchpoints and top tasks and then mapping them onto the entire customer journey for every persona, while highlighting the positive and negative experiences and pinpointing areas for improvement and personalization, is a lot of work. If you do it ‘on the side’, chances are you never complete the exercise, you risk that the journey you have described at the start is no longer relevant by the time you draw your conclusions and the improvements you want to achieve are never done.
You do need someone who can dedicate focus, time and resources to this project. You need a commitment from your management that the improvements that come out of this exercise will be prioritized and taken up into a development and personalization roadmap. You also need someone who can look at the customer journey from an outside in perspective, someone who can challenge the organization, pinpoint pain points, discover pitfalls and has sufficient seniority and no internal barriers to ask the right – and often delicate – questions.
You need someone who dares to challenge assumptions and ask the right questions.
Customer journey mapping is more than writing down the way it is, it should be focused on where it can be done better, what needs to change and what needs to be done to get to the ultimate – personal – interaction with your customers. If you don’t have this, if this mission is assigned to someone who just writes down the ‘as is’, without any questions asked, you will never get to the next level, you will not see where improvements need to be done and again, it will be a waste of effort.
Also, always involve stakeholders from all departments, including a major representation of all customer facing departments.
With all due respect, there are a lot of people who never come close to a customer, and they often do know a lot from the wide variety of surveys they undoubtably order and process into every detail, but only those who really interact with the customer on a regular basis can give the right input. So, once again, if you want to do this exercise only with a limited group of people who never have met a customer in the flesh or have spoken to them, don’t bother.