Another article about customer journeys? You betcha! Aren’t there enough already, Cedric? No. Why? Too many people make mistakes while mapping out their customer journey. Hold on a second, who’s Cedric?
Whoops. I forgot to introduce myself!
Curious about our work? Here’s an interesting timeline from a corporate venture we built with Telenet. It’s called the Park—it’s VR, and it’s amazing.
Okay, back to customer journeys!
Most of our innovation tracks start with one of the following statements:
*Disclaimer: I might have added some drama
I can truly understand why leaders inside companies struggle with those statements. They have a business to run, and at the same time, they’re being bombarded with the constant feed of disruptive news.
As an external consultant, I have a unique view on your business. I facilitate, inspire, and help teams reach useful insights and actionable to do’s. One of the main instruments I use is the customer journey. It bundles a lot of critical information about your company, teams & customers.
Over the years I’ve helped create and analyze customer journeys with both startups and big companies. I gathered most of my learnings and best practices in a handy step-by-step process that I’m about to share with you.
Take a blank sheet of paper, and let’s get to work. You’ll probably need a big one.
Think about your business and the products you’re selling. Customer journeys always have a start and an end:
(I know that there are steps before the start and after the end, but bear with me, we’ll get there)
On the left side of your paper write down your start point, and on the right put the endpoint.
Something like this:
Some examples, if you’re having a hard time:
Today I’d like to focus on “traditional” businesses, that don’t sell online software.
There’s already a truckload of articles about customer journeys and customer onboarding for Software as a Service companies. I do think they are relevant for more traditional businesses, but take a look at them during another time. You’re now reading mine!
If you really can’t wait, here are my two favorites:
We have lift-off!
Now, we need to map all the steps between the start and the end. Let’s walk you through an example.
If we look at the customer journey of company X, these are all the steps:
Time to involve your team. They’re the experts in each step in your customer journey. If we take a closer look at each of the steps above, we could categorize them for each department of your company. You could say that every department is responsible for a part of the customer journey.
Sales & Marketing
Production produces the T-shirts
Cedric receives the package
I’m fully aware that each company is different, and has more or less departments, but it’s up to you to define what matters most in your customer journey. I deliberately added the marketing department to the first 3 steps. They work closely together with sales to generate customers and revenue.
Now, other departments you might consider inviting to the party:
Once you have defined all of the relevant departments in your company, you need to identify the people you want to assign some homework to.
Homework? We’re in the customer journey school, so you better do it!
The goal is to expand our very simple customer journey into a more detailed one. Therefore, we need to ask for some help from the experts inside your company. The ones that are in charge of each task and have mastered every step of the way. In our innovation tracks, we use the following framework:
Let’s get back to our example.
Alex, the production manager of T-shirt company X, is in charge of the production facility of the T-shirt company. He detailed the production process into the following steps:
See what Alex did? He detailed the entire production process into 5 steps. Nice work, Alex. A Plus!
I just love innovation conference quotes! Here’s another one that applies to customer journeys:
“Every company is a data & technology company"
In this case, the innovation gurus are right.
Data collection should be the number one priority for every company. It helps you analyze and identify friction in everything you do. It definitely applies to improving your customer journey.
So if you collect data, now is the time to process it, using your customer journey as a guideline.
Some questions that data could answer:
Once you gathered the data, you need to analyze it using your customer journey as a guideline. Derive insights and friction points.
We can now answer 2 questions and derive an insight that might be useful:
Hmm that’s weird. Our website states that our products are delivered within 3 days. However, our data shows that we’re not able to keep that promise because our production process takes too long.
You need to capture that insight on your customer journey.
It’s time for a field trip.
You’re probably aware of your competition, and what they’re doing. I want you to look at other companies to see how you can take inspiration and learnings from them.
How can you approach this?
If you found inspiration, add it to your journey. Make sure to highlight why you put it there: partnership, threat, inspiration...
It wouldn’t be called a customer journey if your customers weren’t involved. It seems so obvious, but it isn’t. A lot of companies fail in proactively talking to their customers and identifying friction or growth opportunities.
It’s time to have a sit down with your clients to talk about the future of your business. This is frightening for a lot of companies. They’re convinced that the sales and customer support teams already have the key to unlocking customer feedback, but that feedback often lacks context and is scattered all over the company.
Why should you sit down with your customers?
If you use your customer journey as a guideline, you’ll unlock actionable feedback. It will help you shape your future frictionless customer journey.
How do I sit down with my customers?
First of all, you need to create a list of customers you’d like to invite. It’s important to have some variety. We prefer having face to face conversations and discussions, instead of online surveys. The latter can be used to validate what your small group of customers proposes as improvements.
In previous innovation tracks, we tried to include the following set of customers:
We often aim to have 15 people in the room to do this exercise.
What’s the purpose of this exercise?
Once you have managed to invite 15 people to your office for a workshop, it’s time to prepare. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time. They’re doing you a huge favor coming to your office and helping you get better at what you do.
Preparing your customer workshop:
During the workshop:
Unlocking a group discussion is key at this stage. Your customers will talk about how they experience the interactions with your company every step of the way.
Final question to your customers:
After the workshop:
Normally, you should have captured loads of feedback from your customers. You should be able to rank all feedback in the following buckets:
Make sure to filter out the least important things. Never ever throw away any form of feedback, but create a “backlog” of ideas for future improvements. Focus on the most important pain points and frictions to start off with.
A lot of companies tend to forget the journey before a customer orders a product and after they receive it. During your customer workshop you should have uncovered their main buying intentions and how they decide to order your product.
In recent workshops, we uncovered some interesting insights that might be a crucial part of your customer journey:
The same applies for the journey after you’ve delivered your product:
Bringing it home:
Normally your customer journey should look like this. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a powerful document. Creating this document made you:
Hang it on your wall. In a place where a lot of people pass by. Make it a collaborative document. One that is open for discussion.
Apart from that, you could do the following:
It’s important to realize that this is a living document. You’re never done optimizing, innovating, or even radically changing your business.