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Understanding Customer Journey Mapping – Part 1

In an era when brands offer so many touch points to consumers, it’s increasingly important to have a deep understanding of the customer journey. In the first of a three part blog, Director Stuart Pearce explains the purpose of Customer Journey Mapping and how it fits into the organisation as an agent of change.

It can seem overwhelming to keep tabs on the many access points that brands have with customers, including face to face, digital and print, but customer journey mapping can help. The process can be game-changing, giving you clearer insights into customer emotions and behaviours while contributing significantly to the bottom line.

Through this blog, I aim to unravel the purpose of this highly useful tool, explain who should be using it, its key constituents and what good and bad looks like.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the process of visualising how every interaction and contact made between your business and the customer are delivered.

You literally ‘map out’ the customer’s journey, understanding the intricacies of their interactions with the business through a flow chart (for example). The larger a business, the more complex the process becomes, especially when trying to map a customer’s journey across both on and offline channels.

Why do we need Customer Journey Mapping?

The end goal is to create a customer-focused mentality throughout the whole organisation. Rather than just trying to isolate flaws in one part of the business where the experience is identifiably weaker, it is designed to re-orient your business processes to be customer led.

So, rather than (as we shall see) just engaging the marketing team in the exercise, you need to ensure that the entire organisation, starting with the senior leadership team, operations and people managers are living the full end-to-end customer journey, and that every touch point, is engaged through the process.

To do this, you must change the culture. In the past, organisations have been very technology or product led: “build it and they will come” or “here is the process, now follow it”CRM systems and user interfaces were built with the company in mind.

Now, the customer dictates what works best for them and in an age where simple, customer led applications like Amazon are global and ubiquitous, companies must change their processes in a similar way.

“How can I Change? It is too hard”

This is a frequent mantra from business leaders when they first approach Customer Journey Mapping. Organisations may have spent millions of pounds on these technology-led solutions and databases that are not future proof and are very rigid and inflexible. Legacy makes it very difficult for them to change their culture and their customer journeys.

To create a customer-focused mentality they have to look at what is right for the customer, rather than what is right for the systems and processes they already have in place. So that’s the second reason why companies don’t always fully embrace customer journey mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping can be painful. It forces you to look yourself in the mirror, and for it to be successful you have to admit that you’ve got it wrong and to be prepared to make a change. The reality is this is a far bigger journey for your organisation.

The Customer Lifecycle and your Organisation

All customer journey maps sit within the end-to-end customer lifecycle. By understanding the entire lifecycle we can get a better understanding on who should lead which journeys and who else needs to be actively involved in the process.

It can help organisations determine which business areas are involved in each specific stage of the lifecycle. This help to ensure that customer’s interactions are as easy, frictionless anddeliver a great experience..

Lifecycle Stage                                  Business Area

Awareness & Consideration           Marketing & Sales
Buy & Begin                                      Sales, Operations & Marketing
Own & Use                                       Operations, Sales & Marketing
Support & Change                          Operations, Sales & Marketing
Leave & Re-engage                        Operations, Sales & Marketing

Marketing plays a huge role in the Awareness and Consideration stage, creating demand for the products and services.

Marketing spends far more on customer acquisition than retention. Its role is far smaller in purchase and post-purchase stages. It sits mostly in e-commerce solutions, providing information to help customers use their products and services via their websites or with printed material.

There is a separate programme to drive loyalty programmes to keep customers engaged with the brand once they are on-boarded and satisfied.

Sales’ main role is the Buy and Begin stage, especially in a retail or B2B environment. Like marketing, they play a much smaller role in all other phases, but are going to be more actively involved when operating in a B2B environment. This is especially so with customers who make large or long purchase decisions and value their relationship with their account manager.

Operations actually have a huge and active role over most stages in the lifecycle, except for Awareness and Consideration. In fact, operations can often take a leading role as they are usually responsible for inventory, logistics, customer service and field engineers.

So, it is interesting that, in many organisations, marketing ‘owns’ customer experience and therefore a sizeable chunk of customer journey mapping when operations plays the largest role in the purchase and post purchase stages.

In a later blog, I will go into more depth on the optimum team to carry forward and embed a successful Customer Journey Mapping programme in the organisation.

In the next blog, I will explore what a Customer Journey map should (and shouldn’t) look like, so that costly mistakes can be avoided early when setting it up.

Journey4 has extensive experience with engaging teams in a wide variety of sectors with Customer journey mapping to drive sustainable growth.

For more information and case studies about our approach, fill in an enquiry form or call us on 01823 451 199