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Consider your experiences as a consumer. Have you ever been so aggravated by a company that you’re ready to switch to their competition because they are just too difficult to work with? Most (if not all) of us are likely to answer “yes”.

As consumers with busy schedules and a lot to accomplish on any given day, we gravitate towards options that provide the fastest and most painless way to obtain the services we need – whether it’s making a purchase from an online retailer, or establishing new telecom or cable services, or getting questions answered about healthcare insurance coverage. In every case, we’re looking for a business whose customer service model is simple, effortless, fast and accurate. And what typically aggravates us the most is when a business gives us scripted answers, hard-to-navigate websites, and apps, or answers that vary depending on the service channel that we use on any given day.

So how can you make sure that your customers don’t abandon you for your competition? The answer is this – conduct a customer journey mapping exercise and then implement changes to address your findings.

Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is an analysis of the end-to-end experience that your customers face when they interact with your business. CJM highlights the customer interactions with your business, the moments of truth that delight them and the pain points they suffer – whether they are reaching you through a call center, a website, a mobile app, or social media. CJM forces your organization to first see itself through the eyes of your customers.

customer journey map

Most companies are proficient at business process improvement efforts, which typically focus on re-engineering internal processes to maximize efficiencies and increase throughput. But there is a fundamental difference between business process improvements and customer journey mapping. CJM is all about the customer – the actions they must perform to interact with you and the emotions they feel as they perform those actions. Through customer journey mapping, you’re looking to identify ways to delight your customers so that you remain their choice for doing business and, better yet, they recommend you to others.

Outlined below are some key design principles to keep in mind as you set out to conduct a Customer Journey Mapping exercise:

  • ADOPT THE CUSTOMER’S MINDSET

The success of CJM rests largely on your ability to adopt the customer persona. Stay in character! Keep in mind that the average customer has a limited understanding of your company’s inner workings; something that does not appear problematic to you, as an internal expert, might be a significant pain point from an external perspective. The key is to identify what really happens with the customer, not what is supposed to happen. The more you can commit to the role, the clearer you will see into the customer experience.

  • FOCUS ON CRITICAL CUSTOMER ACTIVITIES (JOURNEYS)

It’s unrealistic and overwhelming to anticipate mapping the full range of potential customer journeys. Zeroing in on the client interactions which generate the most issues or complaints will equip you to mitigate the most relevant and high-volume customer frustrations.

Begin with considering the following question: Which customer profiles, transaction types, products, and service channels best define the highest volume, lowest satisfaction and most difficult customer experiences? Those scenarios or “customer journeys” are the ones that make you most vulnerable.  So, start there.

  • KEEP IT SIMPLE

Focus on these simple attributes of the customer journey: What actions must the customer perform? What is their thought process during each action? What emotions are they experiencing at each step? These answers will identify the moments of truth and the pain points.

  • ELEVATE THE “WOW” FACTOR

Just as pain points are key moments at which customers can become dissatisfied with your business, moments of truth are opportunities at which customers can reaffirm their desire to engage with your services. By determining moments of truth along your customers’ journeys, you can make the choice to “wow” your client instead of aggravating them. Role-playing scenarios are especially helpful in identifying these moments of truth.

  • DOCUMENT USING FACILITATED WORKSHOPS

Facilitated workshops are an excellent way to document the customer journey and to identify the central touch points along the way. Workshops provide structure and a process to role-play the customer journeys. And collaborating with a broad, cross-functional team in these workshops provides two important benefits. Every function from marketing to sales, to operations, billing and IT will be involved in implementing fixes, so their contribution to the discovery of customer pain points will garner their buy-in to implementing fixes.  And, as importantly, these participants are more likely to truly take on the customer persona and “tell it like it is” because they are not the customer service experts, predisposed to how it should be.

  • MAKE PEACE WITH THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (ESPECIALLY THE UGLY)

Throughout your CJM process, it’s critical to remain objective, reflect on what’s actually happening rather than what should be happening. Make no excuses for the pain points identified in this process! Knowing the specifics of what causes customer frustration and disillusionment is the start of making your business great from a customer experience perspective.  While this is no doubt a humbling process, you will find that identifying these pain points, and fixing them, ultimately decreases the risk of losing customers to the competition.