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The Simple Customer Journey Map | Customers, Etc

The Simple Customer Journey Map | Customers, Etc
By Ben McCormack • Issue #38 • View online
A quick note on current events: Sometimes I struggle to write this weekly newsletter because what I really want to write about is something completely unrelated to customers and more about what’s going on in the world. But this newsletter sort of has a theme—you know, “customers”, and occasionally, “etc."—so I mostly try to stick to the script. But yesterday was the inauguration of Joe Biden, and I don’t know, I’m just sort of filled with hope and feel the need to briefly comment on that?
Matt Levine has a newsletter called Money Stuff (it’s excellent—you should sign up!). Recently he quoted something he wrote back in November 2016:
The Constitution, separation of powers, religious liberty, freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, the rule of law, equality of all citizens: There is a complacent sense in America that these things are independent self-operative checks on power. But they aren’t. They are checks on power only as far as they command the collective loyalty of those in power; they require a governing class that cares about law and government and American tradition, rather than personal power and revenge. Their magic is fragile, and can disappear if people who don’t believe in it gain power.
Citizens in a republic will necessarily disagree on how best to govern themselves. In this election, 81 million Americans voted for Joe Biden and 74 million voted for the incumbent. Those votes represent lawful disagreement on how best to govern. I’m filled with hope because I believe the incoming president "cares about law and government and American tradition, rather than personal power and revenge.” When we respect the traditions that are the foundation of our democracy, we can be hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to peaceably express disagreement with one another, and as result, retain the privilege of governing ourselves.

I remember the first time I was part of a group that was tasked with coming up with a customer journey map. “I don’t know the first thing about journey maps—where do we even start?” was probably the first thought that went through my head. If you search for examples of customer journey maps, you’re likely to find examples with super polished graphics that can feel a bit overwhelming (actually, though, the examples in the linked article are pretty good, even if they’re beyond the reach of a layman’s design skills).
But I have good news! A journey map doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler, the better. The act of creating a journey map takes you through the process of thinking through your business from your customer’s point of view, which is the entire point.
When creating your customer journey map, you’ll want to connect to leadership language, keep it simple, and pay special attention to the names of the various stages. What’s the purpose of a map? A map gives you a sense of direction and can help you figure out where you need to go. When done right, a good customer journey map will help you orient your business towards focusing on customer’s and their journey, which is the key to customer-driven growth.
Photo by ardito ryan Harrisna on Unsplash
Photo by ardito ryan Harrisna on Unsplash
Connect to leadership language
Why do businesses even go through the trouble of creating journey maps? It’s a worthy question, because if you’re going to do the work, you mind as well understand why. Let’s be overly simplistic: your customers are your only source of revenue, so if you’re going to orient your business around serving your customers, it makes sense to spend time seeing things from their point of view. That’s what creating a journey map is all about, giving your business a shared 50,000 foot view of what it looks like to do business with you from a customer’s point of view.
If you have a few hours and want to dive deep into the “why” behind customer experience as a discipline and appropriately frame why you should care about journey maps, check out Chief Customer Officer 2.0 by Jeanne Bliss. She provides perhaps the best context about why you’re bothering to go through the journey mapping process and how it should tie into your organization (emphasis mine):
Your customer journey map should be used regularly to provide leaders with consistency in determining organizational needs and priorities necessary for customer-driven growth. Over time, it should be accepted as a united business decision blueprint that can be understood and adapted throughout all levels of the organization….
Many organizations say they focus on the customers’ experience, but few do the hard work to define the stages of the experiences from the customers’ point of view…. In the absence of this, all of the operating areas do their own thing, driven by their internal tasks and agenda and scorecard….
Please don’t make journey mapping a shiny object that you take on because everyone else is doing it. For this work to be successful, it must connect to leadership language and accountability and communication. Otherwise you’re executing an expensive tactic.
For a customer journey map to be truly effective, it’s critical that it’s used across the organization, not just within the customer experience organization. If you can imagine the customer journey map being referenced regularly at leadership meetings and updated on semi-regular basis, you’re starting to get the feel for how your journey map is going to take shape.
When you get started in creating a customer journey map, the key is to keep it simple. If the point of your journey map is to drive alignment across the entire organization, and more crucially, to be actively referenced at leadership meetings, it needs to be simple enough that it can be taken in quickly.
Your journey map shouldn’t be a process diagram or an operations playbook. If you find yourself skewing towards creating an operations playbook—meaning, you’re describing the minute details of your business from your perspective, not your customer's—that’s a pretty clear sign that you’re drifting away from the purpose of the journey map, which is to get yourself in your customer’s shoes.
It’s okay to add on to your journey map over time or even have it link to more technical documentation as your journey map gets more deeply integrated into the organization. You might focus on separating the “front of house” from the “back of house”, for example, to highlight the distinction between what’s visible vs what’s invisible to customer. But to start, keep it simple.
Name the stages
Perhaps the most important area to keep it simple is the naming of the actual stages of the customer journey. But just because it should be simple doesn’t mean it’s easy! Naming stages can be incredibly challenging, especially if you’ve been used to using internally-adopted naming patterns (department names?) for so long. However, if you get the names right, this can have a big payoff in aligning your organization.
Jeanne Bliss says further on in her book:
As you take on journey mapping, make your first action gaining agreement on the names of the stage of the journey. This is very important. Naming the customer journey stages begins the shift from independent silo activities to understanding the complete experiences or objectives that customers are trying to achieve as a result of their interactions with you.
She continues:
It’s helpful to think about every stage as a complete experience, with an outcome where the customer …
- Can state what they were able to accomplish.
- Is clear about the value they received.
- Wants to continue working with you.
- Is compelled to tell others about their experience, product, or service.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider the following journey stages as a starting point:
  • Awareness
  • Evaluation
  • Decision
  • Success
  • Loyalty
Notice how we’re using customer language, not the language of the business. You don’t see “marketing”, “sales”, or “close” up there. The key is to use the language the customer would use.
Also, that list isn’t complete and it’s not specific to your business. Change it. It’s up to you to do the hard work to name the stages and add in the steps that are critical in your customer’s relationship to your business. For example, if you’re buying a house, you probably need an “onboarding” phase, but you’re not going to call it onboarding. You’re going to call it “moving in."¹ You need to do the work of looking at your business from your customer’s point of view to name the stages and tell the story of your customer’s journey.
If you’ve made it this far and are still trying to figure out how to get started, I recommend stepping away from the computer, grabbing pen and paper, and starting to write. If you’re doing the exercise as a team (highly recommended!), get in a (virtual) room and (virtually) whiteboard ideas together. If you’re going to do the work of stepping into your customer’s shoes, you have to get away from the everyday distractions in order for it to be effective.
And remember, your first journey map doesn’t need to be perfect—it needs to be simple, have meaningful names for each stage of the customer journey, and actually be used to help align the leadership team and the organization as a whole. Get that right and you have a key ingredient for customer-driven growth.
  1. Onboarding is probably my favorite overlooked journey stage. I like to refer to it as “customer creation”.
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Ben McCormack

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