There are many design tools and techniques to help companies become customer experience leaders, from service blueprints to empathy and customer journey maps. Customer journeys in particular, are very useful diagrams that visually illustrate the series of steps users have to take when engaging with a company or service.
They highlight the series of touchpoints between users and organizations, representing interactions defined by unique combinations of service offerings (e.g. informational, utility, financial), delivery channels (e.g. phone, mobile apps, SMS, website) and devices (e.g. desktop, tablet, smartphone).
There is no question about the value these maps provide and their utility in going beyond improving a user experience; For example, by helping companies’ sales and marketing efforts promote customer’s loyalty, increase their lifetime value and improve the bottom-line.
We know people tend to judge experiences by the most emotionally intense points in that journey (often associated with pain or gain) as well as the final interaction with a brand. Customer journey maps are very useful for creating effective omni-channel experiences and allow us to identify and address these points. However, they also pose some challenges. The challenges are that they tend not to properly address evolutionary changes in the nature of the experiences and customer journey maps can be very reactive (we’re fixing/enhancing existing experiences).
So, what can we do to move past following maps to become actual guides of user’s behaviors and experiences?
I propose tackling those two challenges by enhancing customer journey maps via a “connected mindset” that strives to influence and change user’s behaviors for long term user engagement.
- Connected Mindset – Companies need to recognize that interactions are quickly expanding beyond websites and mobile apps. Interactions are becoming increasingly complex and pervasive as we start to see things like digital experiences in physical spaces, augmented reality, chatbots, connected objects (IoT), wearables, etc. Therefore “holistic” experiences need to be built from the ground up, making sure they remain consistent and relevant to one’s brand in a truly channel-agnostic way, as we’ve talked about in the past using the airline industry as an example. This requires companies to think beyond the screen and truly attempt to understand user’s motivations and behaviors as they interact with their various channels.
- Behavior Changes – Traditional customer journey maps illustrate what we think or know our customers are doing. In contrast, we’re trying to move towards defining what we want them to do. I’m not talking about coercion or unwilling manipulation, but the actual design of systems that satisfy informational and transactional needs, as well as allow users to satisfy their behavioral and aspirational goals to yield a lasting positive change for your users. This can be accomplished by clearly identifying and categorizing your users, determining their needs, and then understanding the most effective “engagement loop” for their situation (also known as the “Hook Model”) – where the engagement loop is the cycle formed by a trigger (cue that motivates an action), an action (behavior done in anticipation of a reward), a reward (benefit the user gets from taking the action) and an investment (user action that improves the service for the next go-around).
As you set your sights on becoming a customer service leader – or keeping your leader status – this coming year, make sure your customer journey mapping is designed to enhance the customer experience instead of simply document it.