taking a nap on an airport bench
PHOTO: Ilnur Kalimullin

Ensuring customer experience success is an ongoing effort. Just as brands evolve, so too do their customers. We see customers evolve in their interactions with products and services, their complex and varied needs, and the channels through which they express feedback. Customer journey maps document those interactions at scale and help companies better understand the actions, thoughts, expectations and feelings of the people that connect with their brands. These maps help businesses capture customer analytics and track critical pain points to maintain quality customer experiences and address problems.

However, customer journey maps can be a pervasive challenge for businesses. They are often difficult to create, and they can be complex and confusing. Moreover, the process of extracting meaning from can be overwhelming. But with 70 percent of buying experiences based on how customers feel they are being treated, it’s clear that successful and diligent execution of journey maps can truly benefit a business.

Here’s a look at four ways in which businesses can optimize their use of customer journey maps to resolve customer complaints and close feedback loops while avoiding the burnout that could arise from working on these challenging projects.

So Many Customers, So Many Maps

The best journey maps incorporate feedback from various channels and capture multiple interactions with the brand to ensure that the insights they offer are comprehensive and unbiased. What can overwhelm teams at first is that, on top of distilling information from so many channels, journey maps also reflect the experiences of a wide variety individuals. Teams must be willing to update journey maps or create more than one version of the map to preserve the voice of the customer and devise products or services that address varying customer needs.

Take, for example, the AARP — an organization that is currently putting a lot of time and energy into an effort to “go digital.” The advocacy group for people 50 and over has created multiple journey maps to reflect its nuanced customer base, which ranges from people who are nearing or have just entered retirement and are likely to be somewhat tech-savvy to elderly individuals who are used to receiving information through the mail. Organizations like AARP that understand that journey maps can and should be flexible are better equipped to gain a complete view of the customer. Moreover, recognizing the diversity within your customer base and taking a flexible approach to journey mapping may take some of the guesswork out of decision-making around the customer experience, and that makes teams more confident in the work they’re doing and motivates them to continue putting effort into the customer journey mapping process.

Related Article: Why Personas Matter in B2B Customer Journey Mapping

Listen, Fix, Repeat

Here’s a tough pill to swallow, but an important lesson to learn: Customers are bound to experience and express a few problems with your product, the service you provide or even the values you promote. While negative feedback might be inevitable, a dynamic and well-documented journey map equips teams with the tools they need to respond to what they currently know instead of becoming bogged down by what might happen in the future.

A prime example of this can be found in Verizon’s response to customer feedback during Hurricane Sandy in 2013. Verizon noticed customers complaining about widespread power outages and assumed they were worried about lost connections to landline phones. The company then decided to forward all customers’ phone calls directly to their cellphones, which alleviated the main problem for some customers. Through continued and apt analysis of feedback through social channels however, the company realized that more Verizon users were concerned that they would incur overage fees for excessive data usage.

Solving the first problem was a win, but those efforts ultimately led the team to uncover a new problem, and they were also motivated to fix that one. By listening and responding to the problems at hand, teams earn small victories along the way, and those victories energize and encourage them. In contrast, if teams feel that trying to resolve customer problems is a daunting, insurmountable task, they are likely to experience burnout.

Related Article: Do Customer Journeys Get Marketers Where They Want to Go?

Set Internal Goals

Though increasing customer loyalty is often the North Star of a customer journey map, different brands have different reasons for creating these maps and using them as analytical tools.

At the outset, it’s crucial to identify clear objectives, which could range from uncovering insights to fixing current problems or looking for opportunities to impress and win new business in the future. Without a clear path and benchmarks to monitor success along the way, it’s easy for teams to become overwhelmed by an abundance of data, and that feeling of being overwhelmed can lead to burnout.

Aligning the internal team on what to look for when mining customer experience data will first help to extract what are often referred to as “moments of truth.” These are individual actions — positive experiences, pain points or even blind spots where the brand should be interacting with a customer but has neglected to do so — that have the most impact on a company’s objective. Focusing on these specific interactions along the customer’s journey makes it possible to manage expectations for the team and decrease rates of fatigue.

With Customer Journey Maps, Patience Is a Virtue

Customer journey maps can lead to a treasure trove of information that you could use to increase customer loyalty and transform your business. But while that end result is certainly alluring, remember that true transformation takes time. To prevent burnout, companies must continually remind employees that the initial goal is not to reach the treasure, but to start the voyage. Using customer feedback to solve one specific problem might feel like a trivial tactical action, but collectively the solutions to individual problems help the company achieve larger strategic goals, such as reducing customer churn or attracting more business. Ultimately, the whole will prove to be greater than the sum of the parts, but it takes time.

Customer journey maps can help organizations glean new insights into how customers interact with their brands and how they view the world. However, while customer journey maps are extremely valuable, they harbor a vast amount of data, they are complicated and the process of creating and maintaining them is a challenge, and therefore teams working on customer journey maps may experience fatigue and burnout. To avoid burnout and realize the benefits that customer journey maps can yield, businesses must maintain perspective and diligence along their own journeys. If they do that, the journey map is bound to impact customer experience for the better.