According to a recent article published by McKinsey & Company, successful customer experience programs generally result in revenue growth of 5 to 10 percent and cost savings of 15 to 25 percent within the first few years. Beyond the monetary gains, successful CX programs often simplify operations, improve the employee experience, and strengthen brand value along the way.

With all those benefits, most executives understand the value of customer experience. But actually embarking on a customer experience transformation journey can be daunting. Where do you start?

At Sense Corp, we help companies large and small transform their customer experience into a competitive advantage. If your organization is like most of the ones we’ve worked with, you’re probably eager to immediately start brainstorming all the innovative ways you can change in the future.

Before you can define the future state vision, you need to understand the current state reality.

This starts with a simple, yet powerful tool: Customer Journey Mapping.

The concept of a customer journey map is actually pretty simple. Think of it as a picture that shows all the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company. Instead of looking at each individual touchpoint between a customer and your organization, the customer journey map enables you to see the “big picture” of a customer’s holistic experience.

Most importantly, customer journey mapping helps you see things from the customer’s perspective – a critical first step in any CX transformation journey.

That sounds nice, but is customer journey mapping really worth the effort?

According to research conducted by Aberdeen Group, companies that invest in customer journey mapping see on average a 54% greater return on marketing investment, 10 times improvement in the cost of customer service, 3.5 times greater revenue from customer referrals, and 56% more cross- and up-sell revenue. So yes, it’s worth it!

What does a Customer Journey Mapping effort look like?

In putting together your customer journey maps, you’ll want to focus on two key questions as you map:

  1. What are all the touchpoints in the customer’s journey?
  2. What’s happening at each touchpoint?

First, identify all the touchpoints you need to include in your customer journey map. For this exercise, consider using the “LBGUPS” framework (created by AT&T employees several years ago) to list out all the relevant customer touchpoints in your business model:

  • Learn: When customers first become aware of a product or service, they may conduct research and analysis prior to purchasing. “Learn” touchpoints may look like store visits, sales calls, or website views.
  • Buy: Once the customer is informed, he or she makes the decision to buy the product or service and communicates that intention to the organization.
  • Get: This is the phase in which the customer receives the product or service physically or virtually.
  • Use: This is when the customer uses the product or benefits from the service.
  • Pay: The customer pays for the product or service, either at the time of purchase or after the fact.
  • Support: This is when the organization provides information or services to address product or service deficiencies or issues. Support is critical to engaging and retaining customers.

Once you’ve identified all the touchpoints, the next step is to zoom in and figure out what’s happening at each stage.

You may want to start with data analysis, quantifying aspects of customer touchpoints, but your customer journey mapping exercise will be incomplete if you stop there. You see, we love data, but data often fails to communicate the frustrations and experiences of customers. To truly construct an accurate view of the customer journey, you’ll want to complement your quantitative data points with qualitative data points provided by your most important stakeholder: your customers.

Whether through online surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews, take the time to engage directly with your customers. In our experience, layering in the qualitative perspective significantly increases the value of customer journey mapping exercises.

In conducting your quantitative and qualitative analysis of each touchpoint, consider using CX expert Adam Richardson’s Actions | Motivations | Questions | Barriers model to frame up your questions:

  • Actions: What is the customer doing at each stage? What actions are they taking to move themselves on to the next stage?
  • Motivations: Why is the customer motivated to keep going to the next stage? What emotions are they feeling? Why do they care?
  • Questions: What are the uncertainties, jargon, or other issues preventing the customer from moving to the next stage?
  • Barriers: What structural, process, cost, implementation, or other barriers stand in the way of moving on to the next stage?

Putting it all together

With your touchpoints identified and your deep dives completed, you can now put together a complete picture of the customer experience from their perspective. If this is the first time you’ve ever put together a customer journey map for your organization, prepare yourself: it may not look very pretty!

The truth is, if your organization has identified customer experience as a strategic opportunity, your initial customer journey map will likely depict redundant activities, disjointed communications, customer frustrations, and operational inefficiencies. But don’t let that get you down! A “messy” current state customer journey map may be just the tool you need to evangelize the importance of your CX transformation program.

In the early stages of your program, take the customer journey map with you to every meeting you have. Whether you’re talking to executive leadership, department managers, IT or data experts, or front-line customer service agents, use the customer journey map to paint a picture of where you are, explain the importance of the work you’re doing, and ask for your colleagues’ partnership in your customer experience journey. After all, it takes a village to transform customer experience, so start recruiting your cross-functional partners early!

Now that you’ve mapped your current customer journey and put together a team of CX transformation co-pilots, you can start creating a vision for what you want your future customer journey to look like. More on that in our next post!

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