By: Sandi Verrecchia @satoriinsight
As a Business Therapist, I recognize that there is a strong correlation between business success and customer satisfaction. I also have learned over the years that growth is a bi-product of strategy and customer engagement. Understanding how customers’ view our organization and the highs and lows of dealing with us is critical information to help inform the strategy of any organization.
Our perception of the journey that our customers take to do business with us can often be different to the actual customer journey. Why? Overtime we tend to get comfortable, make assumptions, defend strategy, question less, and believe our personal paradigms about what motivates our customers to do business with us.
Talking to our customers and understanding their expectations, motivations and emotions toward our business and products/service offerings can uncover a customer journey that often reveals a reality that is very different from what we believe to be true.
Mapping our customers journey connects the why and how with the outcome. This provides invaluable insight as to the real reason our customers deal with us and provides opportunity to break down delivery barriers, communication barriers and/or channel barriers. Customer Journey mapping can lead to an entirely new marketing message based on an uncovered desire or expectation, or lead to a revamp of a customer on-boarding process or even to a new website design. The information can be invaluable to inform strategy.
What is Journey Mapping?
Journey mapping is an exercise that starts with the customer and ends with a clear map that visually depicts the journey that a customer takes, even before they engage with an organization. Through discussion, the reasons for dealing with the organization are uncovered. The initial customer thought process is identified (web searches, referrals or perhaps a perceived lack or choice). The service levels at every touch point are assessed, and the emotions that are fired as a result of their journey are uncovered. Finally, it maps the true customer experience cycle across all channels from the initial stage of contemplating a need through to the close and post-mortem.
When we begin customer journey work, we typically hold a staff session to understand how the staff members perceive the customer experience and to share with them the process and intent of customer journey mapping. From there we work with new and existing customers to map the actual experience. This two-pronged approach helps create buy-in for change because the staff are part of the process and can be instrumental at finding solutions that will enhance the customer experience going forward.
Some of the areas of difference or disconnects that might be uncovered could be:
- Value Proposition – The value proposition might not be what customers are looking for. Example the value proposition of the organization might be comfort but customers are seeking convenience;
- Process – A process that an organization feels works really well might feel bumpy and difficult for the customer;
- Customer effort– Lower customer effort results in higher customer satisfaction. Customer Journey Mapping can uncover customer based activities that require effort this is above a customer’s threshold thereby detracting from the overall customer experience;
- Marketing – The marketing efforts of the organization that are meant to drive customers to the organization are not actually driving business. Example, radio ads might be the medium of choice but customers are coming due to newspaper advertising or referrals;
- Vision or Mission Disconnect – Sometimes as organizations grow, they lose sight as to who the customer is or why the organization was formed in the first place. This can cause power struggles between the customer and the organization, customer service levels can drop and executives may be scratching their heads as to why customers are not as engaged, irritable or simply leaving;
- Multi-Channel vs. Omni-Channel – In today’s business world there are often multiple ways to access an organization – Website, call centres, direct (sales reps.), Mobile, store front/ branch. However, the coordination of these multiple channels often breaks down and negatively affects the customer experience. An exercise such as customer journey mapping can highlight if an organization is at an Multi-channel stage (non-integrated) or have reached an integrated Omni-channel status.
Bill Gates one said that “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” I believe as a Business Therapist that to truly understand how customers really feel you must listen to all of them. This includes the happy, the unhappy and the mushy middle. Creating the conversation through customer journey mapping will provide a pathway of knowledge that can be used to ensure you’re providing the ultimate customer experience.
CMC, CPCC, MBA
Sandi Verrecchia is a Certified Management Consultant, holds a Masters degree and is a professional Leadership Coach. With over 20 years of experience in the financial services, academic and not for profit sectors, her diverse background of consulting, operations, marketing and sales is a wonderful compliment to her passion for coaching.