A group of marketers working on a customer journey and smartphone UI elements
PHOTO: Adobe

Now that we’ve laid out the foundational steps for customer journey mapping, it’s time to look into the execution aspect. Steps 4, 5 and 6, if you will.

That’s going to take customer journey map maintenance and management, governance for multiple stakeholders, insights into how your maps evolve and the sophistication of your understanding of your customers, according to Noz Urbina of Urbina Consulting.

“That's when we're getting really serious,” he said. “It is common for enterprise teams to have implementation challenges around journey mapping because it presents a change to standard operating procedures and a more disciplined approach to content development.”

Establishing Governance, KPIs

Establishing customer journey map governance, determining how often and on which factors to refresh maps, is all part of advancing the effort, according to Urbina.

“If new data comes in, what's the process for adding it to a map?” Urbina asked. “It’s about putting in a RACI chart around maps, as well as governance timeframes. So you know — these are key maps and we look at them every month, these are lower priority maps and we look at them twice a year or annually; putting a governance framework with structure in place.”

Organizations also need to make sure customer journey maps actually deliver business value. Do the stages of your journey map to a call-to-action or KPIs? Organizations need to measure that actionable steps have been taken.

“What are our Key Performance Indicators along this map and are we reporting on them?” Urbina said.

Related Article: Foundational Steps for Customer Journey Mapping Initiatives

Common Activities and Deliverables of Journey Mapping

Urbina puts customer journey mapping efforts into two distinct categories: activities and deliverables.

He breaks them down this way:

  • Activity: Project kickoff
  • Deliverables: Update program RACI, goals and timeline
  • Activity: Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) implementation planning: content and campaign analysis, competitive analysis, KPI and metrics strategy and integration with production processes
  • Deliverables: CJM recommendations report: content guidelines and standards, recommendations, KPI framework
  • Activity: CJM validation: run production project with mapping methods, support internal staff queries, measure content performance against updated KPI strategy
  • Deliverables: CJM validation report: testing and validation results, updated recommendations
  • Activity: CJM governance design: interviews and focus groups    
  • Deliverables: CJM governance report: governance roles and responsibilities, governance workflows, governance policies and guidelines
  • Activity: CJM implementation, roll-out and scaling: document CJM best practices, plans for CJM maintenance and scaling, integrated change management for adoption
  • Deliverables: roll-out implementation plan, implementation training plan, taxonomy implementation, implementation summary report

“There’s got to be some way to make your journey map drive action and change in the business or else why the heck did you create it?” Urbina said. “You've got to have the governance in place to measure the call-to-action on the metrics and then internally check if you are managing tasks against the opportunities and insights that you define… On this journey map, how are we doing on our key metrics, so we’re closing the loop between the mapping process, standard operating procedures, changes and business metrics and reporting?”

Constant Iteration, Optimization

What's the iteration process like? Once you’ve seen trends emerge in the user data analyzed by product or marketing teams, start to establish meaningful segments and personas, according to Jeremy Levy, CEO of Indicative. If a certain segment’s customer journey is both profitable and replicable, task the marketing team with finding more customers that fit the mold.

“Running continuous analysis of the customer journey leads to natural iteration,” Levy said. “Whenever your company releases a new product feature, opens a new marketing channel or pushes a new design that impacts the user experience, look at the customer data and find where the customer journey is changing. Keep iterating and optimizing.”

Related Article: Customer Journey Orchestration Isn't Just for B2C Anymore

Sourcing CX Data

Putting journey maps into action requires addressing some of the challenges associated with traditional journey maps: not using the actual Voice of the Customer (VoC); only asking for input on known areas versus allowing the customer to share unsolicited feedback; and not having the technology in place to continually update the customer’s view of the journey, according to Julie Miller, VP of product marketing at Clarabridge.

Sourcing CX data from all interaction channels — phone calls, surveys, emails, social media, online reviews, etc. — to inform and validate journeys gives more granular insight into what is driving behavior and helps quantify the impact of interactions across the journey.

“Organizations can identify, diagnose and fix areas along the journey that are causing customer frustration and confusion often leading to churn, operational inefficiencies and cost,” Miller said. “Marrying loyalty data used to determine measures like NPS and CSAT with interaction data such as calls to the contact center and chats give a more complete understanding of the journey and the impacts to the customer experience (i.e. high effort, negative sentiment) and to the business (i.e. costs incurred from long calls and repeat calls or contacts in multiple channels) to help justify and prioritize improvement initiatives.’

Duties of Journey Owners

The CX or Voice of the Customer team, and in some cases, individuals who are designated as “journey owners," will use the journey maps to educate their executives and stakeholders on how customers engage with the company and where they are running into challenges.

“They will enrich the journey maps with data and measurements to indicate the magnitude of those issues as well as where things are going well,” Miller said. “And then use that to help prioritize potential improvements needed to optimize or streamline the journey such as policy changes, process enhancements, modification to communications, addressing knowledge gaps and fixing system issues.”

For each sub-journey, such as “onboarding and enrollment,” companies are using cross-functional tiger teams led by journey owners and lean processes to create a systematic approach to driving action out of the journeys, according to Miller. “This approach,” she said, “helps identify and prioritize the business questions to be answered across the journey such as, 'Did the Rep confirm that the medicines I use today are included in the healthcare plan I’m signing up for?’”

The team then incorporates operational data (i.e. volume, duration and cost of interactions as well as repeat contacts) and customer feedback data (i.e. high effort interactions, interactions causing frustration/low sentiment, low NPS or OSAT) to quantify the impact of issues occurring across the journey.

“The teams will often review an inventory or backlog of projects to align their focus to those areas and add proposed improvement initiatives where needed,” Miller said. “This becomes a continuous improvement process centered on journeys where the teams identify, diagnose and fix issues not just on a one-time basis, but as new issues emerge through the customer feedback captured in all channels (calls, chat, email, social, messaging, survey) and from the operational data showing the business impact. Using insights from the actual interactions such as calls and chat, enables CX teams to more accurately diagnose the root cause of issues and ultimately allow these journey-led programs to be more actionable.”

Aligning Organization, Using Consistent Methodology

Miller added organizations in the customer journey mapping process can align the organization around a common journey framework and terminology and utilize a consistent methodology to map journeys, both from a customer perspective and from a third-party perspective.

Organizations should also:

  • Utilize the actual Voice of the Customer to inform, validate and measure the effectiveness of your journey maps (i.e. topics/sub-topics, effort, emotion, etc.)
  • Incorporate interaction data such as calls and chat to understand the business impact and to help justify improvements needed
  • Provide ongoing monitoring of changes made to determine if they had the desired result and to surface emerging issues early
  • Infuse the journey-centric approach into your CX program scorecards and reporting
  • Conduct deep-dive readouts with your CX/VoC teams and the journey owners to help ensure the journey understanding is current

“The process to develop and iterate on journeys often entails working with the different stakeholders around the business to define the touchpoints and interactions customers go through,” Miller said. “It’s a collaborative process that can require a series of working sessions and it’s frequently the first times some of the teams come together."

Use customer feedback data to more accurately represent the customer perspective, she said, and to quantify and measure the effectiveness of the journey while giving a more granular view into what’s driving their perspective leads to additional refinement of the journeys over time. "That," she added, "is key to addressing some of the age-old challenges of journey maps which is that they are a 'one-and-done' effort, designed with an inside-out view and can quickly become stagnant.”