Three Powerful Reasons to Understand Your Customer’s Journey

Danyel LaGow

Companies of all sizes are embracing the importance of customer experience, and the exercise of mapping their customers’ journeys. Yet, the practice of customer journey mapping can all-too-often be isolated — within a specific department, product or service. However, the end-to-end customer experience, or as close to it as you can get, is where the real magic happens. Here’s why:

1. You only think you know your customers. 

Even customer-experience-savvy organizations sometimes need to be reminded of the power of the end-to-end view. When they get it, it’s downright eye opening. When an organization takes the time to map the customer journey from end-to-end, it naturally brings a few things to the forefront:

  • The touch points, or different intersections along the way where the customer comes in contact with your brand. It can be surprising for folks to see how many different touch points the customer has to go through with their brand.
  • The critical “moments of truth” across the customer experience — key moments that could make or break the experience. If they have a good experience in those moments of truth, you could win them as a loyal customer. On the flip side, if they have a poor experience, they may in those moments decide to take their business elsewhere.
  • The experience gaps across the customer journey — where customers are feeling some level of “pain” within the experience and where there is ample opportunity to improve that part of the experience.

Most companies and individuals are hardworking and well-intentioned. They come to work each day with the purpose of doing what is best and right for our customers. Yet, it takes customer insights, mapping the end-to-end customer journey, and bringing customers into your organization to validate your findings to evolve from knowing your customer to truly understand what they want and need from an experience.

A journey mapping exercise in action.


2. You can break down silos and unify the view of the customer.

Journey mapping can be an invaluable tool for breaking down silos and aligning around the customer experience. We have had organizations approach end-to-end customer journey mapping from the beginning, as a directive from senior leadership. We have also had it evolve from initiatives that began within a department and went broader. Regardless of the approach, you can bust down some silos and do great work as a collective — all for the greater good of your customers.

Recently, we were called in to lead a customer journey mapping workshop for a large company. It became evident at the onset that it would be advantageous to get a clear picture of what happens prior to sale (such as what steps the customer takes to make their decision and at what places they interact with the company),  what happens after the sale is made, and then later how the customers’ product needs evolve. As a result, the journey map became a cross-functional view of the organization, with input from different teams and departments, that represents the end-to-end customer experience. Every part of this process has a constant focus on what is best for the customer.

When everyone’s interest is directed at the customer, this process becomes a big time silo buster. Why? Because everyone wins. Everyone gets to see what a customer’s journey looks like and leverage it for greater success.

It is my experience that individuals who participate in end-to-end customer journey workshops never approach their day-to-day work the same. Once you have the opportunity to see it from the customer’s perspective and connect their entire experience, the business view becomes innately customer first.

3. You create a living document.

When an end-to-end journey map is developed, it becomes a tool and a living document for how any department might craft, fine tune, or create interactions with the customer. It is also a great way to negotiate buy-in for key customer initiatives, because concrete customer journey information is accessible.

These customer journey maps can become an organizational tool everyone can get behind — because everyone ultimately wants to do what’s right for the customer.

Here are some ways our clients have used journey maps to keep the customer front and center:

  • Once, upon the completion of a customer journey mapping workshop and subsequent planning, a senior executive requested large format printouts of the maps to be put up in conference rooms so they could be front and center with employees.
  • Clients have used them to highlight experience gaps and document improvements. As they close gaps, they show it in a visual way on the map. We encourage clients to properly recognize and celebrate those wins as an organization.
  • Project teams who are working on customer-facing initiatives often use customer journey maps as a tool to ensure they have the proper internal players involved in improving the customer experience. What may have been a marketing effort can evolve into a cross-team effort.
  • PMOs use it as a tool to prioritize initiatives that will impact the customer experience. Not all parts of the experience are created equal; remember that the critical moments of truth from across the journey are the parts of the experience that matter most to the customer. Organizations should make sure the initiatives they set forth will, in fact, make a positive experience for the customer.

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