Why Customer Journey Mapping Is a Verb, Not a Noun Leave a comment




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The need to understand customer behaviors may never be as great as today. Customers are proliferating digital channels thanks to the digital acceleration that began in 2020 and extends today.

And companies need help. Only 11% of organizations say they currently understand customer behavior well, according to the CMSWire State of Digital Customer Experience. About 56% say they moderately understand customer behavior, and 33% say they either understand customer behavior poorly or that they haven’t started to understand customer behavior yet.

Customer journey mapping is one tool to help understand customers better. But it’s more than creating a map. It’s defining truly those customer moments that matter.

Jeannie Walters, chief customer experience investigator and founder at Experience Investigators, invests in making customer journey mapping work. It’s a verb, and not a noun, she says. Walters shared these and other tips and strategies around customer journey mapping and CX best practices in our latest CX Decoded Podcast.

Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript has been edited for space and clarity.

Rich Hein: Hello again, everyone, and welcome to CX Decoded. I’m back with my co-host, Dom Nicastro, senior reporter for CMSWire.

Dom Nicastro: Rich, so good to be here with you again today on CX Decoded. Really, really excited for this guest. Shall we introduce her to our audience with our guest rapid fire?

Rich: Let’s do it, Dom.

Dom: All right, here we go. Rich, who is she?

Rich: Jeannie Walters.

Dom: And what’s her title?

Rich: She’s the chief customer experience investigator and the founder of Experience Investigators.

Dom: She sure is. So why do we have her on CX Decoded today?

Rich: Because she’s one of the most recognized thought leaders in customer experience. And she makes us sound smart by being here. So with that, I’ll also mention that she has 20 years experience helping companies improve loyalty retention, employee engagement and overall customer experience. Today she’s joining us, Dom, to help us dive into the world of customer journey mapping where we’ll do a deep dive.

Dom: She absolutely is. And we’ve worked with her before Rich and she’s so good to work with. I’m sold on her for sure. Jeannie, how are you today?

Jeannie Walters: I’m great. Thank you for that rapid fire introduction. That was fantastic.

Rich: Jeannie, you know, we like to have a mix of guests ranging from practitioners to tech-savvy experts, consultants, everything in between. You come from a unique vantage point having to work with multiple organizations across many different industries and verticals.

How did you end up in this current role? And can you tell us about your company?

Jeannie: Sure, absolutely. Like most of us, I did not tell my kindergarten teacher that I wanted to be a customer experience professional; that was not really on my radar.

So I started my career in fundraising. And then I was a partner at a firm that was a traditional marketing communications firm; my partner was actually my brother. And we were kind of at the dawn of what I call the big internet, which is when large organizations are realizing like, wow, we can do more than brochures. That’s amazing. And they started really doing things where they were interacting with customers.

And we were involved with a very large project with a very large company. And it was really kind of an aha moment because we looked around the room and thought everybody here is for this business, but nobody’s here for the customer. And so we really shifted in that moment in the late 90s. A

nd so after that we focused on customer experience, which at the time, people weren’t really talking about in the same way. A lot of people looked at me like I had three heads when I said it. But we started realizing like, there are all these barriers that are falling down in this moment. We were working with an insurance company, who before had always had an agent or broker between them and the customer. And suddenly the customer could come online and interact directly with them. It was a whole new world.

And so that’s really where I started. And then in 2009, I started this company. And that was really to focus on all the different ways social media also was changing the game in that moment in time. And since then I’ve just kind of been hanging on for the ride. It’s really, it’s a lot of fun. And I think that customer experience is universal. And yet every single organization, every single industry is nuanced and different. And the best part is every individual customer is nuanced and different, too. So there’s always work to be done. And I just love it.

Rich: It’s so funny that you say that because we live in this age now where you hear so many analyst firms and organizations themselves saying that customer experience is the competitive differentiator.

Jeannie: Mm hmm. It completely is. I mean, I think that you look at the disruptors of the last 20 years, and they’ve all been experience-based. And you look at the companies that we used to revere, and they couldn’t keep up because they weren’t paying attention to what customers were really expecting from them. And so you know, the Kodaks and the Borders Books, and Blockbuster Video, all of those examples. That’s really what that was about.

And so I totally agree it is business. It’s just how to do business. And that’s the part that I think we have to keep screaming from the rooftops in podcasts like this and the work you all do, because it really is a business discipline. But more than that, it’s a business strategy. And if we can get leaders excited about that, then everything changes within the organization.

Dom: Experience Investigators, Jeannie. I love that name. I can see you in like an old school like detective like, yeah, we’re in a fedora. You’re smoking a cigar and you come over and like, Hey, what are we got over here? Joe, we got customer data silos here, we got an executive management team that doesn’t care about customer experience. You get chatbots that are not giving customers answers. We got a big cleanup here, guys. What do you think?

Jeannie: I love the visual there. Thank you.

Dom: They should do a marketing promo with that, like, I’ll get all the credit, but you can do it…Experience Investigators.

Jeannie: Yeah, that name is very intentional, because I really believe that so much of the work we do is about investigation. It’s about really looking at what’s really going on here. What’s really happening for your customer? And what is the root cause that we need to address? Or what is the way to innovate or all of those things. So I absolutely look at it as a way of discovery for so many other solutions.

Dom: Yeah, and speaking of investigations, you know, you had to go out there the past 20 months or so, you know, during the pandemic and talk to a lot of brands about CX and how they have to shift and abandon old tactics, adapt to the new, digitally transform. So what’s your assessment? You know, how did brands do with CX during the pandemic?

Jeannie: Yeah, what an interesting time we’ve been living through, right. And I think that it’s such a case study in what it takes to really be nimble, and adapt and change. And there are some other examples of what happens when you can’t do that.

And the organizations that did really well, were the ones who basically said, you know what? I know, we said that it was going to take us five years to introduce digital journeys that really worked for the customer, we’re going to do that in six weeks. And that actually happened. There are examples of that with large organizations who realized that the only way that they could continue to serve customers in this moment in time, was to literally transform how they operated practically overnight.

And that was all about understanding in very simple ways. What do our customers need from us right now, today? And how can we give this to them in a way that works for them? And everything shifted in that moment. And I think that part of that is that feeling of, you mentioned silos, you know, the feeling of we’re in this together, and we’re looking at, what can we do for the customer. And when everybody does that, amazing things happen.

So one of my favorite examples was Meijer, the big grocery chain in the Midwest up in Michigan. And they literally were able to create better digital ordering, they were able to create curbside pickup, all sorts of things in a matter of weeks. And that had been on a five-year roadmap for them, they literally did that.

And there are other examples like that look at all the creativity around what restaurants were doing to serve people either curbside, or you know, I live in Chicago, it gets cold here. But they had to be outdoors. So there were certain local restaurants that put up igloo-type things that had ventilation, so that people could actually come enjoy their services. And they could still serve the customers by thinking totally outside of the box.

And I really think that’s because the focus became so squarely on what do our customers need right now? And that’s a question sometimes we don’t ask enough, ironically. So that’s what I saw was true innovation based on that question. And we got some really amazing results that are going to continue well beyond where whatever the next thing is. I don’t even I don’t even want to make predictions at this point.

Dom: What’s the next disrupter? I mean, yeah, crazy.

Rich: I have a follow up to that, which was, if you went into an organization, how would you help them understand exactly what their customers need at any given moment? I know journey maps play a part of that. But it seems like there’s a larger question.

Jeannie: Oh, yeah. I mean, I think like most things in customer experience, journey maps are a tool in a toolkit. And so when you’re looking at what do customers need today, there are lots of different signals to really look at. One is, of course, the customer feedback data that you already have. What has been happening? What are those patterns that they’ve been telling you about what they need in the future? And how can you speed that up?

The other thing that I look at is the ecosystem: where are you compared to the competitors? Where are you compared to outside of your industry with ease and effortless experiences? Because customers expect things based on that?

This is an overused example, I will say that, but Amazon did change the game because people started realizing, oh, I can get this overnight. This is amazing. This is what I want everywhere.

I worked with a medical delivery company. And one of the things they said was, well, it’s not enough to tell people anymore where the truck is you have to show them because of Uber, right? Because that’s the experience that everybody has.

So I think a lot of what we try to do is sometimes we try to respond in the moment to that feedback that we’re getting in the moment. But we have to put all those signals together and look at where are we going as kind of a marketplace as an ecosystem? Because that’s what really will drive the right kind of innovation.

So we want to look at that feedback metrics and data, we want to look at what’s happening in the marketplace, we want to look at, what have your customers been telling you as a pain point for too long? Because if you say, well, we’re not going to solve that, because that’s how it’s done in our industry. There is a disrupter right now, who is trying to solve that problem, right now today. And if you can’t be your own, disrupter, somebody else in your industry will be.

And so that’s what I really look at, and look for. But it all has to tie back to your organizational goals, too. And so you have to make sure that you’re not just talking about this, that you’re tying all of these customer experience goals, back to your organizational goals to your leadership goals, all of that.

Dom: Yeah, Jeannie, we’re always asking organizations like in my role as a reporter, Rich as an editor, you know, how are you collecting that data? You know, on your customers? How are you managing it? You know, what tools are you using? Is it actionable? Is there too much data? You know, what are some of the common struggles out there you’re hearing in terms of collecting that data, and making an actionable?

Jeannie: I see everything along that spectrum. I have clients who say we don’t have any data. And that’s ridiculous, right, like everybody has. It’s just a matter of where it is. And what are we actually referring to as data? I say that because sometimes we ignore certain observations, certain anecdotes, we think, well, that’s not real data.

Sometimes I get in trouble for saying this, but anecdotal data is still data. So if you are starting from a place where you feel like you don’t have enough, that’s where I always start is what data do you have? Because that still will give you insights that will still give you direction of what your customers want, and where you can serve them better.

And then the organizations that have too much data right now there is, you know, the fact that we use the term data lake, that is so telling, isn’t it? And, you know, we need certain expertise now to really figure that data out. And if you’re not willing to invest in prioritizing that type of thing, then you’re not really willing to invest in customer experience.

I mean, I can’t tell you how many leaders tell me no, customer experience is a total priority. And then you say, oh, let me look at your org chart and see your chief customer officer; oh, we don’t have one of those. We have one person who’s in charge of CX for this billion-dollar company or something. And if you’re not investing in the tools that you need to really understand the data that you have, if you’re not prioritizing, getting the right expertise in there to help you really dig out the insights that you need in order to move forward, then you’re really not prioritizing customer experience. And we should stop saying that we are.

So that’s one thing. But the other thing that I like to look at too is, you know, if we are starting from a place of we kind of know what’s wrong; because I have been in meetings where we will go around the table and all the executives say, yeah, we’ve got to fix that. That’s a terrible way to treat customers. And then they say things like, well, we better send out surveys to confirm that. Why? You don’t need data, if you already know it. So that’s the other thing I would say is we need to trust what we know about our organizations. We have become so data-driven, and you hear people say we make data-driven decisions and all that, that sometimes we check out as humans, and we check out as leaders.

And really this specifically, this discipline of customer experience, is a lot of science and a lot of art. And the art includes your heart. And we have to remember that we are constantly balancing kind of love and logic. And if we miss that, we’re going to make decisions based on what people have told us, which doesn’t always equal how people will behave. So we have to balance all of that constantly when we’re looking at the different data points that we have.

Rich: OK, so I had a question for later, but you’re talking about it now. So I’m going to ask is, what do you do in those situations when you see this happening in your organization, and you’re finding it difficult to get people to pay attention to these types of very important issues that, as we said, are differentiators and industries?

Jeannie: I use something called a CX Success statement, which can be really helpful. Because if we are not speaking the language of the leaders who need to pay attention, then that’s on us. And so I’ve seen a lot of organizations who say things like, our goal is to have an exceptional customer experience. And I’m like, that’s great. What is that here? And they can’t answer that question. And so they can’t answer that question. And so in a year, they look back and they go, I think we did, did we? I’m not sure. And they have no measurement on it. And they’re not really sure or they’re measuring things, but they’re not sure how that connects. And so then everybody looks at that one CX person. And they say, well, I guess customer experience doesn’t really work.

And it’s crazy. But it happens all the time. And you know, I always say, can you imagine if a sales team had one bad quarter. And somebody was like, Well, I guess sales doesn’t work. We would never say that. But that happens to customer experience all the time.

So the way I break down that success statement is you think about what are your organizational goals? What are those key performance indicators, those data points that everybody is aware of and they care about, and they’re aiming for those results as an organization? And that can be an annual goal, or a three-year or whatever.

And then you want to break that down into who are you talking to? What does that leader care about? So if you’re talking to your chief marketing officer, you might want to say, you know, what, if we improve customer experience, this way, if we invest in it, that will mean that we get better word-of-mouth marketing, that will mean more referrals. That will mean that when those referred customers come to us, they are more likely to spend more money earlier in their lifecycle. That means that we can lower the acquisition cost of getting a customer. The CMO probably will care about that.

So we need to really get to the heart of what the leaders that we’re discussing care about for the organization, and connect the dots with why that’s important. Unfortunately, we talk about customer experience, sometimes in very soft terms. We also because we all care about the customers that we’re serving, we sometimes think that’s enough. And we think, well, this is the right thing to do. And of course, we’re gonna treat customers well. And of course, we’re going to improve the experience. But it’s an investment. And so we have to prove the return on that investment. And the best way to do that is to speak the language of our leaders.

Rich: Yes. And I think you bring up another great leadership point, which is incentivize the behavior you want.

Jeannie: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think part of that is making sure everybody understands, what is the customer experience we’re trying to deliver? Ut’s not enough to talk about it, like just be the best in class. What does that mean? That means nothing.

And so you really have to get at what are the trade-offs that we’re going to have to make? Because sometimes you can’t be the fastest and the most accurate. So you have to decide who are we, and really put that together. And that’s, you know, I’m a big believer in a customer experience mission statement for that reason, so that everybody knows what that North Star is.

And then you tie that to the success statement. And that’s where you really start seeing the engine go in the way that it needs to because I mean, I keep saying this, but it’s like I have heard so many people say, yeah, we talk about it a lot, or you know, we had a big meeting, or we had a customer week. But that’s it, they don’t really tie that back to how is that driving the business forward? And that’s what we need to get everybody excited about.

Rich: Well, let’s get into our discussion about customer journey mapping.

Dom: Now that the podcast is over.

Jeannie: Sorry, I get hot about these things.

Dom: No, we love it.

Rich: No, I love your insight.

Dom: Yeah.

Rich: And we love going down the rabbit hole with you.

Dom: We do.

Rich: But you know, talking about customer journey mapping, like what are the core elements that are necessary to do it successfully? And I think from my standpoint, I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on how long does the process actually take? Let’s say your boss said to you, I want to target new audience x.

Jeannie: Well, there are a couple of ways to answer that. I think that I am a big believer that the process of journey mapping is more powerful than the product sometimes. And what I mean by that is we sometimes get obsessed about deliverables in business. And we say it’s not done until we can put it as a poster on the wall or show somebody. And while that is the ultimate outcome with journey mapping, the act of getting people together and walking through the experience for your customer and really understanding the data, that’s where the insights come from.

And so when we talk about how do you do this, and how long I believe that you can get insights from an afternoon, you can get people together, you can have a workshop, you can really start rolling up your sleeves and gathering information that will lead to action. That’s like the quick and dirty version, right?

But you can go all the way to where you have some of these tools, which are amazing now, that connect all sorts of the data points that you need in real-time, and they use artificial intelligence to help you sort through all of that and they help you actually, you know, understand what your customers are doing and how they are behaving, not just what they are reporting.

And so you can use those robust tools and that can be an ongoing part of what you do. So it’s not just like, hey, this is our journey map today. It’s something that’s ongoing, but I mean, if you’re in a complex B2B organization, you can’t do the full journey for any customer in an afternoon. That’s just not realistic. So part of what leads to success with journey mapping is understanding your goal and your scope.

Because if you say, let’s just do it all, then you’re going to stay really high-level, you’re not really going to get the insights that matter. And frankly, you’re not going to connect with what’s really happening with the customer. It often will be more of a process map from the internal perspective. If you say, you know what, let’s just dive into this part of the journey, or this persona, or this process or this product line or whatever, then you will get a lot more insights.

And the time is tricky to predict. Because it really does depend on how far do you want to go with this? How much data do you want to collect? Do you want to interview customers? Do you want to bring them in? Do you want to go and do some observation work? Sometimes I’ve done things where I’ve, you know, I sat in a bank lobby for a day and just watched all the interactions that the tellers had.

So you can do all sorts of different things. And that’s where it adds to the time. But that also adds to the insights. So it’s always a trade-off, you just have to kind of decide, wow, that

Dom: Wow, that sounds like an entertaining day, I might ask my wife to go on a date and be like, hey, hon, do you want to customer journey map at a bank with me all day?

Jeannie: I also rode along with 8-track repair guys for a day. So that was interesting. So you never know, never the same day twice.

Dom: Next, next up the cable guy in the three-hour window?

Rich: Sounds like you’ve worked with a bunch of organizations. When you’re going through this process, do you typically get these big aha moments when you’re going through all this? Or is it pretty much what you expect to see?

Jeannie: There always ahas. And I think sometimes the ahas, just not always what you expect. One of my favorite examples was literally in the moment, like we’re in the workshop, and it was the first one. So this is very early in the process. You know, my job, as I say often to my clients is to ask a lot of questions. And one of the questions was OK, you know, what happens here in the journey? And somebody very proudly said, well, we send the customer this beautiful welcome package. And then somebody across the room said, oh, hang on, we send a welcome package. And so the customer was getting confused and calling the service center, because they were saying, I’m getting two different customer numbers, I’m getting, you know, it’s very confusing.

And think about all that wasted money and energy and everything. And that’s just because these two departments weren’t talking to each other. And because they didn’t have enough visibility into the customer data, which happens everywhere. I mean, we’re getting better at this. But visibility is still a big thing. And so what happened was literally in the workshop, somebody said, I’m going to go stop this, left the room, stopped the printing in the production of those welcome packets from the one department and said, we are going to get together on this and solve this.

And so within a week, they had one welcome packet going out, they realized what they were doing, and they started cross-functional communication in a way that hadn’t been there before. That’s the type of aha, that sometimes happens.

Sometimes it’s more like, you know, what, everybody’s telling me that this one thing keeps happening, and nobody can figure out why. Let’s figure out why. Let’s do some real root cause analysis. Let’s get the right people in the room and solve this once and for all. Because otherwise, it’s I don’t know why that happens. And I don’t know who’s in charge of it. And our customers hate it. But I don’t know who to tell.

And so, honestly, it’s getting people talking about this and using the right mindset that can be so powerful. Those are the ahas that I get most excited about..

Dom: That’s such a vivid example. Thanks for sharing that. You know, it’s funny, you know, that all the meetings in the world don’t solve problems. It turns out. You actually have to get together and discuss the blockers, you know.

Jeannie: Yeah.

Rich: We should put a meeting on the calendar for that Dom.

Dom: We should we should. Earlier though, I just want to follow up on a quick point, you talked about the journey mapping for B2B would be wildly different for most from a lot of B2C.

So like an example I’m thinking is like Snickers right there, their customer journey mapping would be a little different from Maersk, let’s say, right?

Jeannie: Yeah.

Dom: They’re shipping tons of cargo across the world. So can you think of an example where you have done customer journey map and with a B2C versus a B2B and kind of the main differences customer experience professionals might find?

Jeannie: I always think of B2B as layers, because really, when you are trying to map a B2B experience, you have to expand the scope to a bigger ecosystem, in my opinion, because these last few months didn’t we all learn about supply chain in a way that we hadn’t before?

And if we don’t include that if we don’t include understanding supply chain or understanding the partner experience. Understanding for instance, if you use different distribution channels, all of those things affect the customer experience. So part of the way I approach B2B is really thinking about, let’s start with the customer. Like, let’s start with that end-experience with them and then back out.

And so that way you really start thinking about who is actually delivering to the customer. In some cases, it’s not your organization. How are you getting communication to them? How are they paying their bills? All of those things. So that really is how I think of B2B, you have to think about it as layers.

I worked with an organization that does some pretty amazing manufacturing. And they were one of those kind of like what you just talked about, where, depending on where you were in the world, they had different names, they were huge companies based on where they were, but then they were all part of this big global organization that was just massive. And so we literally tackled it kind of regionally, we said, OK, what can we learn from this first journey mapping exercise that will apply across the board. And then let’s go do this, again, for this organization.

And you start seeing patterns, as you go through that, that are global, that you can say, you know, what, this is not a regional issue. This is something that we have to address at the global scale. And so that’s one thing.

The other, there was a fitness brand I worked with that was very consumer-based. And that’s very different because that’s about really understanding one person’s individual life. It’s really about understanding their real life, how can we serve them? How can we connect with them? It’s different.

But I say that and I put a little asterisk, because B2B is very personal. And I think we overlook that sometimes. And when we have personas in B2B that really don’t address a person, that irritates me. I think we have to really think about, no matter where we are in the journey, there’s a person that we are serving. And so we need to really address that as part of it as well.

Dom: Oh, yeah. It’s super emotional experience. I mean, think about your, you’re a B2B buyer, your credibility is on the line. I mean, if you’re buying something, I mean, going back, if I bought a bad pizza, my wife’s not gonna divorce me. I mean, she might.

You know, that’s B2C, you get over it, maybe you complain to the restaurant or something, and you ask, you hopefully get a free pizza. But your livelihood is on the line, when you’re a B2B buyer, you get to go back to your company and say, hey, this is what I chose, this is what we’re going with, and it’s going to work for us. And if it doesn’t, yeah.

Jeannie: Not only the buyer, but you think about the relationship between a customer success manager (CSM) and their individual client or an account manager and their individual client. Sometimes we put those people like the CSMs in the position where they’re asking for feedback. And the person is like, well, I like playing golf with you. And I don’t want to tell you that we’re actually shopping around right now, I’m not going to tell you that, right? Because it’s too personal.

And so I think that’s another area of B2B we really have to reexamine, is how do we make sure we’re collecting feedback in a way that is safe for the people who are providing that feedback? And that will not put the people that we want to manage those relationships into those awkward situations, and into situations where maybe we’re kind of asking the client not to really tell us the truth? I think that’s a big area in B2B to look at.

Rich: You mentioned marketing personas, what part do they play in the overall customer journey mapping process? And where does that work typically get done? Does that typically fall within the same team?

Jeannie: Yeah, I actually would revise that a little bit and say, I like to call them CX personas. And the reason, because a lot of marketing personas, I sometimes refer to them as avatars, because those are very idealistic. Those are very much about like, what is this person, ideally doing? I like to get a little more realistic about the CX personas, especially using them in journey mapping.

So I like to do a persona before we start any journey mapping. It will help everybody kind of stay focused. And it will help you understand who you’re really mapping that experience for. So that’s how I approach it. Not everybody does it that way. But I really think about it that way.

One of the challenges with personas right now is that, you know, we want to be more inclusive as a society. And if we create a persona that is based on who our customers were, then sometimes we don’t open up our lens enough to be as inclusive as we need to be. And so I’ve actually been experimenting with developing personas that don’t have gender or names. They have initials, so they’re still human, but I write a different story for them. I saw one recently with a client and I tried really hard not to tear it up the minute I saw. It said something like their customer was a housewife.

And I was like, oh, man, what year is it? Because I think we can say that we’re making a ton of assumptions about the parent who happens to stay home. And that’s the type of thing I just want to be more aware of personally, and I also think we need to drive that as customer experience professionals. We really need to drive that inclusiveness and make sure that we’re thinking through that.

The other thing I like about using personas is that you can expand that and say, what would this be like for a persona with a disability? You know, how can we make the accessibility of our products and services better for somebody with a disability? Or somebody who is culturally from a different perspective? Do we have enough language support all those things?

So that’s what I love about using personas. And I tend to really encourage them before we actually start journey mapping, it can really help the process.

Dom: Jeannie, when we talked earlier, for the show, you mentioned that customer journey mapping is a verb, not a noun. What did you mean by that?

Jeannie: Well, this is really my belief that it’s something to continue to do. Because it’s a tool. It’s something that gives us those insights that we can act on, it gives us a way to check in once we make improvements. Can we go back and journey map again, and see if we actually solve the problem we were looking to solve?

There are all sorts of ways to use it. And I think sometimes people get really hung up on the idea of, oh, my gosh, we’re going to have this amazing piece of artwork. And it’s going to show our whole journey, and it’s going to be so obvious to everybody in the company now what what the customer journey is. And of course, that never happens.

And I’ve been in organizations where they are so proud of the journey map that they made in 2018, that it’s still on the wall. Now think about how much the world has changed since then, that journey map is useless. It is literally a poster on the wall.

And so when we are looking at why are we doing this, we have to look at it as this is a process to help us achieve a goal. It’s a process to help us serve the customer better. So it’s something we should continue to do, we should continue to act on it and get less hung up about the product and fall in love with the process.

And that’s why I like saying it’s a verb.

Rich: So within my organization, we try to do that on a quarterly basis; visit those types of personas. How do you recommend that organizations? What’s that kind of timeframe?

Jeannie: Quarterly is awesome. I have seen a lot of organizations struggle with that cadence because they’re not nimble enough, frankly, and because sometimes it takes a lot to change in these large organizations. So I like a minimum of annual, but I prefer quarterly or every six months.

Every once in a while, I also do something I call micro-mapping, which is where you really zero into one specific part of the journey in a way that’s highly detailed. And micro-mapping is something you can do every month, you could pick one moment of the journey, and you can say what can we do here, let’s really understand this moment in the journey, let’s figure out what we’re going to do about it and solve it.

And so that’s a way to kind of keep the muscle of journey mapping throughout the organization, because I also am a big believer that this is something to teach everybody. You should not hoard your journey maps, you should not say this is the journey mapping team and only they can do it. We really want people to use this as a tool to do better things for customers and to achieve those business objectives.

So I really love thinking about it as something that it’s great to have on a regular cadence. But it’s also something in your back pocket, you can pull it out in a meeting and say, you know what, let’s micro map this right now and figure out what we’re doing.

Rich: So you’ve been inside a lot of organizations, what are the things you keep seeing over and over again, as far as roadblocks and challenges?

Jeannie: One is people get very excited about the idea of customer experience or something they heard, right? So I have had people call me and say I want to do a journey map. And I’ll say great, why? And they’re like, because I saw this speaker and he said it was cool.

So it’s like you really have to narrow in and figure out what are your goals? And how will those goals serve your organization? Because the more that we can connect those dots, the more investment and support and leadership buy-in we’ll get. So those are the obstacles I see. There’s not enough leadership buy in.

There’s a lot of talk about how it’s a priority, but not a lot of backing up of that with investment or resources. And the other thing I see is that customer experience gets kind of I don’t even know what the word is, but it’s categorized incorrectly. So somebody will say they’re in charge of customer experience. And you ask them what they do, and they send out surveys, and that’s all they do.

And so in their organization, customer experience is seen as collecting customer feedback, and that’s it. And we really have to broaden the lens here and talk about how customer experience is a business strategy, it’s a mindset and it’s a discipline. It’s a business discipline, just like every other part of business. And it’s how we do business. It’s not necessarily this thing that we tack on and we say we’re doing customer experience. It’s how we to business.

So that’s what I see, is that we have to change a lot within the culture in order to really be successful journey.

Dom: What are the different channels and sources, you know, you can use to find or produce journey mapping research. You know, we talked a lot about personas. But what else you don’t like focus groups surveys, or anything outside the box they can do here?

Jeannie: Yeah, I mean, you heard me mention observation work. I’m a big believer in this. I think that sometimes we assume a lot based on what our surveys are telling us and what our process maps are telling us. But when you go and actually watch what’s happening, you really see the customer experience. So I’m a big believer in that, including observation work, or field work as well, just being in the field with the people who are actually serving your customers.

The other thing I really like is tapping into the knowledge that you have within the organization. Talk to your contact center reps, talk to your cashiers, talk to your sales guys in B2B. Because really, they’re dealing with customers every single day. We can’t rely on everybody documenting every single thing. And so sometimes the best thing to do is just pull them aside and say, tell me what you know. And contact centers, especially sometimes the codes that we asked them to use, don’t always match up to reality. So they’re telling us that there is a problem, because people are calling in about billing. But what’s really happening is that bills are going to the wrong address. And they have no way to say that or something. That’s a weird example. But you know what I’m saying.

And so we you know, by really tapping into the knowledge of the people who are serving your customers, that’s a really powerful way to do it. Looking at public things like social media reviews, user communities, all of those. Those peer communities can be really rich, with real information about what’s happening with customers. All of that information, coupled with your consistent customer experience metrics, like NPS, and CSAT and all that fun stuff, as well as looking at what does your data insights team tell you? They can slice and dice some of this stuff in amazing ways and tell you actually this group specifically, they’re really struggling right now with this, then you want to dive in and do a journey map just for that group.

So there are all sorts of ways to really look at this. But I think the more that you can expand and really understand that it’s not just one thing, you’ve got this lens of really understanding where people are coming from in all these different ways. That’s really powerful.

Rich: So this doesn’t seem like it lives inside of one technology platform, it seems like this knowledge just kind of spread out across the organization. I mean, is that a niche for someone?

Jeannie: Well, I think we’re getting there, I think there are organizations that have pretty robust centralized customer data platforms that can include a lot of this. I think there are some really amazing pieces of technology that pull in multimedia from customers, so customers can send in videos, you can do virtual focus groups, which by the way, I’m a fan of virtual focus groups more than in person because you can control the loud person more. And you can vote things up and down, there are all sorts of really cool things with virtual that I like a lot more than in-person focus groups.

And so there are tools out there that will allow you to really include a lot of this as you go with the journey map. And that’s where the journey map becomes a really powerful tool, because then it’s a centralized place where it’s highly visible throughout the organization. And as things change, the journey map changes right along with it, and so if your customer expectations are changing, you are documenting that as you go.

So there are different ways to do that. I think we are realizing just how important transparency and visibility is to the customer journey. That’s why as customers, when we call in, after having a terrible chat experience, we cannot believe that the person we’re talking to doesn’t realize we were just on chat, you know, how frustrating is that? We’re realizing how important those moments are to customer journeys. And so having that visibility so that every single person knows, okay, this is who you are customer, and this is where you’ve been with us. And this is how I can help you in this moment. That’s all because of centralized data. And so we have to prioritize that moving forward.

Rich: So I know a lot of organizations are doing customer journey mapping. But, what I’m not as sure about is how are they defining success or failure? Like how do they know the efficacy of these customer journey maps?

Jeannie: Mm hmm. Great question. And I probably have a terrible answer. Because I think it is a huge question. I think that organizations often go into journey mapping with one idea of what it’s going to be. And then they realize like, oh, this isn’t going to be the magic elixir that I hoped it would. Because knowing the customer’s journey is the first step. Then you have to find more insights. You have to act on it. You have to improve it, you have to make sure that, you know, when you’re correcting that one part of the journey, you’re not breaking another part, which happens sometimes.

So there are all sorts of different ways to look at that. That’s why when I start a journey mapping effort, I always define what is the goal here? What are we actually doing, because that’s the only way you’ll know if you’re successful. And then you also have to drill down and say, what is the scope, and make sure you’re being as specific about that as you possibly can. Because it’s so easy to go too big or not big enough. And if it’s not addressing that goal that you’ve defined, then how do you know if you’re successful?

So I think that’s a big part of it. And then if you know, it’s a process, if you know, it’s a tool that you can use, make sure that you’re using it. And sometimes that means holding people accountable for just journey mapping. And that sounds so basic. But if you’re saying this is really important to our organization moving forward, if you have different departments that you know should be doing this, it’s important to have accountability around that and make sure that they’re investing in it and make sure that they’re getting the support they need to do it. So you can’t just tell people go journey map and expect it to happen. You have to really support all of that and make sure that they know what the goal is, and that they know how to actually define success before they move in.

Dom: Cool. This has been super engaging, Jeannie and Rich. And the only thing, I had to leave for a second, because there was a bunch of CX vendors knocking at my door when Rich said you couldn’t do this in an all-in-one platform. So they were yelling and screaming, and my wife was involved. So it was it was bad, but I shooed them away, I shooed them away.

Jeannie: They’ll be back, don’t worry.

Dom: So here I am with my final question. And I think we can close with Rich is, you know, what, if anything do you feel is kind of on the cutting edge when it comes to this topic, you know, inside of customer journey mapping? Are we gonna see something super cool in 2022? Or is this something already happening that’s kind of cutting edge?

Jeannie: I mean, I personally am a huge fan of where we’re going with machine learning and artificial intelligence. And the thing I’m most excited about is that we are learning there is real concern about the bias that can happen with that as well. But we’re learning how to overcome some of that we’re learning how to make sure that we’re balancing AI and machine learning and data analytics and all those amazing things with humanity.

And I think that’s really exciting. And I think there are not only tools that are doing that, but also teams and leaders who are really looking at how do we make sure that we’re representing the customer in a human way. But also leveraging all these amazing tools that we have to scale it better, to be faster, to be more efficient to make sure that we can deliver improvements on a quicker timeline. And I get really psyched when I think about where we’re going with that. That’s a cool future to think about.

Rich: Yeah, I have to agree with you and explainable artificial intelligence, as well as conversational artificial intelligence, are areas that we’re watching very closely on CMSWire because I think they’re going to have a very big impact.

Jeannie: For sure, and not just for the customer, but for the people who serve the customers. And that’s game changing, too.

Rich: Well, Jeannie, we can’t thank you enough for being a guest on CX Decoded. We’d love to give you an opportunity to share with our audience where they can follow your company and your thought leadership.

Jeannie: Thank you so much for having me, this was a lot of fun. And you can find me at experienceinvestigators.com. And there we also have things like a 21-day CX challenge. In 2021, we had the Year of CX, which was delivering different tools like a journey mapping template, and things like that all available for free. So you can go to yearofcx.com or just find me on LinkedIn.

Dom: Awesome.

Rich: So I’d like to say thank you again to our guests, Jeannie, as well as my co-host Dom Nicastro, and our engineers and producers Jess and Jen, and thanks to our listeners for tuning in to another episode of CX Decoded. We’ll see you next time.

Dom: See ya.



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