Guest posst by Mikkel Korntved, Loyalty Group

Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is trending, and many companies want their own - And rightfully so! Yet, is mapping the Customer Journey solely the way to create better Customer Experiences and increased loyalty?

CJM - a Buzzword or the Path to Change?

Trends come and go. Currently, Customer Journey is buzzing and everyone wants to be included! However, mapping the customer journey does not necessarily lead to better Costumer Experiences. It requires an established purpose and strategy for the mapping process and a commitment from top management that the company will take action based on it, as well as the following initiatives. In other words, what do you need your Customer Journey for? If the company does not work with CJM in a strategic, holistic and targeted way, it will never come close to reaping the business value that initially was the aim of the project.

Unfortunately, there's no "quick fixes" to maintain and create successful Customer Relations. Just because a company chooses to form a structured overview of the Customer Journey, it is by no means synonymous with ensuring profitability or that the company is Customer Centric.

Classic Pitfalls

Typical pitfalls when dealing with CJM projects are:

·    The purpose of the project has not been clearly defined

·    The relevant employees have not been included

·    Critical Touch Points have been completely overlooked

·    The customer's opinion is not covered

·    Sufficient resources have not been allocated

·    The project lacks engagement and steering

·    No actual change is made

It Was Always About the Customers… and It Still Is!

Since 1992, Loyalty Group has advised companies about Customer Centricity and carried out Customer Centricity projects in more than 45 countries. Our experience with optimizing the Customer Experience in all Touch Points, based on a defined Customer Strategy and framework, continues to confirm our beliefs of there not being anything "new under the sun". The only new part is that more companies have become aware of how profitable a structured approach to Customer Centricity really is!

The customer's point of view is key - Just like always! It is important to identify the gap between the company's perception and the customer's actual experience i.e. does the company have the right structure and processes as well as the right service design. Are the company's resources allocated and optimized in the eyes of the customers? Maybe the communication is not sufficiently effective, relevant and/or timed correctly.

Essentially, CJM is about managing the Customer Journey and establishing structures and processes that can support it. Unfortunately, CJM often becomes an act of following a trend rather than doing what is right for the customers.

Do Customer Journey Mapping "Right"

According to Loyalty Group's CMO Index 15 survey, 51% of Danish marketing managers perceive the increase of Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty as one of their most important marketing goals in 2015, and 49% use or plan on using CJM to optimize the Customer Experience.

However, CJM is not only a guide! First, a clear Customer Strategy and purpose should be defined before the process, both during and after mapping the Customer Journey, can be managed and optimized accordingly.

The strength of a well-executed CJM is in the fact that it enables companies to understand pains in the Customer Experience in the time when the customer is out of sight for the company, but should be present. The CJM thereby enables the company to incorporate and integrate value-adding initiatives and customer interactions proactively.

Customer Journey Mapping in 5 Steps:

1.  Defining goals and framework

2.  Mapping Touch Points

3.  Describing Touch Points

4.  Determining initiatives

5.  Implementation and follow-up

Alone, CJM is solely a structure for the company's future work in becoming more Customer Centric. Therefore, CJM is only an element, however important, in a bigger picture when creating stronger, more sustainable and profitable Customer Relations across all the company's customer Touch Points - a task that naturally involves ALL the company's customer-facing functions and is owned and managed by the top management.

If you have a Customer Journey Map or find yourself in the process of developing one, remember to think it through as a part of the overall Customer Strategy as well as ensuring a clear focus to maintain and create valuable Customer Relations. Use CJM as a strategic instrument to orchestrate all customer-facing functions, front and back office, to scale best practices throughout different departments within the organization. Thereby CJM can successfully help anchor engagement and ensure direction in the process of creating positive and unforgettable Customer Experiences. Finally yet importantly, a CJM is never complete. It needs continuous adjustment according to change in user and customer behavior as well as market conditions and requirements.

A Successful CJM Requires:

·    Clear goals and purpose before getting started

·    That the Customer Journey is described from the customers' viewpoint

·    That all potential Touch Points are covered

·    That your hypotheses are tested by asking the customers

·    That the employees are being included to ensure engagement

·    That the project is managed and well navigated

·    That it is taken from a strategic exercise to creating actual change

·    Continuous adjustments and restructuring

·    Knowing that it cannot stand alone!

Good luck! …and do not hesitate to call or e-mail Loyalty Group if you wish to be challenged in your Customer Centricity work and in regards to Customer Journey Mapping!

Image via flickr

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