This article is the second in a series about Customer Journey Mapping (CJM), originally published in 2017 and now revised. Below is the full list of articles. You will be able to download the series as an ebook once the fourth article is posted.
- What is Customer Journey Mapping? [Published on July 10, 2018]
- Seven Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping [Below]
- Best practices for Customer Journey Mapping [coming soon]
- Is NOW the right time for Customer Journey Mapping? [coming soon]
Introduction: CJM for hunches, not decisions
Some people hate Customer Journey Mapping (CJM). They see it as a throwback to the bad old days of Research for No Purpose. And anyone who’s done CJM has to admit, there’s a bit of potential danger there. This is summarized in the CJM paradox, which runs like this:
- Research that doesn’t focus on decisions runs the risk of wasting everyone’s time and money because after it’s done, no one DOES anything with it.
- CJM doesn’t focus on decisions yet has enormous top-line and bottom-line potential for your organization.
That indeed is the situation. Most research is decision-focused (rightly so!) and is based on core questions like these:
- What new product / service should we bring to this market segment?
- How should we bundle and price our new software suite?
- What’s the best messaging for our new product?
- What are the main drivers of our customers’ loyalty?
The path for decision-focused research is clear: (1) formulate the decision, (2) do the research to provide insights and information, (3) make the decision.
But CJM is different. CJM is focused on “How do my customers experience their relationship with my company?” In other words, it’s focused on what the customer is doing and/or feeling rather than the decisions you are making.
Consequently, typical CJM questions are — this is the technical term — hunch-based. Things like:
- We’ve got a hunch that a lot of our customer service efforts are wasted
- We’ve got a hunch that the competition is blowing us out of the water during the time when the customer is looking at options and before they make their purchase decision
- We’ve got a hunch that some interactions could easily be moved online and save us big money
Embedded in those hunches is a But: “But we don’t know what customers really think about this issue.”
Here is how that paradox is resolved: the 7 core benefits of Customer Journey Mapping.
1. Smash silos
The silo problem, as everyone knows, is that everyone can have blind spots. You might be limited by function, by geography, or type of work. By definition, those who work in a silo do not have good visibility into what happens outside their world. The trouble is that customer interactions within one silo all-too-often have repercussions for the direction of the customer journey — which then affects other parts of the organization.
The CJM wrecking ball can put a big hole in these silos. Here’s a simple example:
- The technical support function of a large manufacturer measures success by the resolution of customer issues. It tries to do this as quickly as possible and is proud of its 3-day resolution.
- The CJM, though, shows that for certain stages of the journey, 3 days is far too slow. For other stages, it’s unexpectedly fast. Also, customers usually call their account manager when they have a problem, which can add significantly to the perceived wait time, turning the so-called 3 days into 5 or more.
- Based on the findings of the CJM, the technical support team implements a triage system involving Sales. Urgent support needs are quickly escalated; communication between sales and technical support is improved.
CJM removes the blinders that we all have to put on every day to get our jobs done.
2. Get cradle-to-grave guidance
How would you like a research approach that could provide guidance through every phase of the product innovation? I’m going to show you one of Phase 5’s very own graphics, but I promise it’s not a plug. It’s actually an illustration of how this view of the world is limited, and how good CJM research can help you avoid turning this schematic into another set of silos.
In the graphic, to show how multi-phase research can build customer centricity, we connect different research types to the different phases. Inevitably, that’s a simplification and some of those techniques are used in multiple phases.
CJM is the king of multi-phase research. It can help you with
- Strategic prioritization in the very early stages of finding opportunities
- Go-to-market campaigns
- And customer experience strategies
The CJM, with its outside-in perspective, tunnels through the stages of innovation that can too easily become barriers to a holistic vision.
3. Get insight into pain and opportunity
This point might seem silly. Doesn’t all research try to uncover pain and opportunities?
Well, yes, but standard research often asks questions from the company’s or the category’s perspective, rather than from the customer’s.
- What kind of X do you want?
- How could we improve this tool?
CJM sits GoPro on the customer’s head. Rather than focusing on the tool customers often use to solve a problem or meet a need, it focuses on what the customer is trying to do. This can uncover gaps that other kinds of research might never encounter — cracks in the coverage of products and services that exist to get the customer where they want to go.
(Credit: gocomics.com. Melting a snowbank to find a quarter. Did the snow shovel manufacturers ever think of that market?)
4. Emotional connection: customer to you
The content of a strong customer journey map is at least 25% about the emotional states of customers at each stage and sub-stage. How does the customer feel when they realize there’s a problem that needs solving? What emotions run through their minds as they explore options, and make a selection, or call customer service?
Journey maps bring these emotions back into your organization. The report medium (highly graphical and shown as a “map”) is well-suited to doing that.
Emotional communication creates empathy for the purchasers / users among the people who create, build, sell and service your products. This is a research value that is hard-to-measure, but vitally important, because as the late scientist Seth Roberts said, we work hardest on what we personally care about.
Can other types of research do this? Sure, CJM is not the only way. But its human, story-telling structure, with a longitudinal element of discovery and engagement make it both memorable and compelling.
5. Break through the Byzantine B2B
Customer journey maps work very well for consumer journeys. They work fabulously for complex B2B journeys. Everyone who has marketed or sold to business customers knows the frustration of trying to understand how decisions get made. Is it the engineer? The front-line assembly worker? Strategic sourcing? A department head? Is it all these people at different stages? if so, who, when and how much?
The journey map — provided it’s grounded in customer research and designed to include all possible players — is the perfect place to tease out the answers to these questions. It provides a structured view of the process, the interplay between influencers, and what each person’s emotional and practical considerations are, and what their degree of influence is.
Do any of these archetypes sound familiar?
- The engineer whose requirements limit the selection set
- The squeaky wheel that Sales often focuses on, but whose opinion colleagues ignore
- The procurement team with power to blacklist vendors
- The worker bee low in the hierarchy who uses the product but has outsize influence in its selection
- The nominal decision-maker who rubberstamps the purchase as long as the sales tactics don’t offend
A journey mapping exercise can identify all these people and help you understand who to talk to, about what, and when. It also identifies external influencers like labor unions or regulatory bodies that you may not have considered.
This is not to say that the CJM supplants all traditional purchase decision / influencer research. In certain situations it’s still the best source of information. But CJM provides a concise view of multiple players across the long timeframes of B2B decision-making. This view can catalyze changes in marketing, sales, and even product development.
6. Communicate with (and among) functional leads
As we discuss in an upcoming article in this series, the customer journey map is best done under the auspices of high-level executive support. But being a cross-functional undertaking, the CJM will always have in its audience leaders of functional areas — especially customer service, marketing, or sales — who are only interested in a certain detail-level section of the big picture.
The structure of the CJM, with its pre, during, and post-purchase mega-sections, makes it easy to present to and communicate with these mid-level executives. They can quickly get a big picture view before diving into their particular area of interest.
You might ask: does this mean you’re inviting the executives to stay holed up in their silos? That’s not our experience at all. The visual structure of the CJM makes it clear that you’re blowing out one detail of the big picture for them. But since focusing on one area is a logical necessity of execution, the CJM is a great way to do it without losing that larger perspective.
7. Rethink moments of truth
The idea of the “moment of truth” can be both powerful and deceiving. It’s powerful because it sharpens organizational focus. Understanding that there is a specific experience that might make or break the relationship with a customer can focus the attention of an organization on improving that experience. Is the rope going to hold, or is it going to break?
But thinking that you understand the moment of truth can be deceiving because you might not be focused on the most important one. Let’s take the consumer insurance industry as an example.
In insurance, undeniably, filing a claim is a “moment of truth” for many of those customers who experience it — an experience that the insurance company MUST get right in order to retain that customer, discretely look for fraud, and so on. For this reason it’s common in the insurance industry for companies to want to drill into just that single experience, the claims journey.
That’s where the “moment of truth” idea can get deceptive. Drilling into the claims journey is a fine thing to do, but with one caveat: the need to look at claims in the larger context of a more complete customer journey. Without that larger context, the drill-down is deceiving. Not every customer has a claim. A journey map with the proper perspective will show different moments of truth for those many never-had-a-claim customers.
A good journey map shows the moments of truth that apply to different types of customers. It is often eye-opening for an organization to see that many customers have moments of truth that have traditionally gotten much less attention, because they seem less urgent or critical. Continuing the insurance example, a longer list of moments of truth might include:
- Insurance claim
- Technical support with the website
- Billing issue
- Late payment handling
Some of these aren’t sexy, but if they are the rope that keeps you connected to your customer, they’re worth inspecting.
The map metaphor in customer journey mapping really holds. Just like a real map, the CJM guides us through territory we haven’t explored before. It reveals important geographic features to pay attention to. It provides perspective on the landmarks we’ve traditionally thought most important.
Below is our full series about customer journey mapping (CJM).
- What is CJM?
- Seven benefits of customer journey mapping
- Best practices for customer journey mapping
- Is NOW the right time for CJM?
Steve Hansen, MBA, is the President of Phase 5 US. With almost 2 decades of experience in client-side marketing strategy, market research, and product management, Steve brings a client’s mindset and drive for actionable results to each project. He has extensive experience in capturing the view “from the outside” with a special focus on product and service innovation. Steve is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.