Extrapolating the customer journey, and seeing where some of the world’s most prolific CEOs stand on the topic.
Plotting out a customer journey map is an invaluable experience when done right, as it informs you and the organisation on a lot of the “what ifs” in relation to new strategies you and the team have brainstormed. It’s something that allows you to flesh-out ideas and their implications on the customer, your suppliers and inside your own organisation, which is under-appreciated at a time when competition is fierce, and customers are increasingly raising their expectations on the final deliverable.
An effective customer journey map takes into account things like personas of your customers, timelines, emotions, touchpoints and channels- essentially where these interactions are taking place. There’s a number of steps for an organisation to take in order to map this out effectively, and it all starts with reviewing the goals for the organisation as a whole, and then narrow the focus down to that specific product or service that you’re putting under the spotlight. From here, you gather the relevant research, like customer interviews and surveys, customer support logs, analytics from everything you’re doing online, as well as some competitive intelligence; what your competitors are up to.
Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos once said in regard to the customer journey: “the first thing I know is that you need to obsess over customers. I can tell you that we have been doing this since the very beginning, and it’s the only reason Amazon exists today in any form. We’ve always put customers first, when given the choice of obsessing over competitors or obsessing over customers- we always obsess over our customers.”
“We really like to start with customers and work backwards. That is the key thing that I know, and it covers a lot of other mistakes- if you’re truly obsessed over customers, you’ll cover a lot of errors. Any company that wants to focus on customers and put customers first, any company that wants to invent on the behalf of customers has to think long-term.”
The next stage of putting together your customer journey map is to generate the list of customer touchpoints, and then this will help to shape your organisation’s empathy map. The empathy map should take into account those customer personas we mentioned earlier, and how customers with different temperaments would react when passing through the journey with your organisation when purchasing a product or organising a service. This will help you to brainstorm with a different set of lenses, for you to shape some improvements in your organisation that takes into consideration things like the brand’s values that customers are attracted to, or specific areas that you can’t afford to let deteriorate- as they’re essential to the customer’s interaction with your organisation. This can also help you and the team analyse a problem in a different way; posing new and innovative solutions simply through looking at the organisation through a different lens.
From here, you can more accurately plot out the customer journey, and fill in the blanks with accurate information, rather than guesswork.
Steve Jobs, the iconic leader of Apple posed a question in relation to the customer journey. “What incredible benefits can we give to the customer,” he said. “Where can we take the customer? Not starting with let’s sit down with the engineers and figure out what awesome technology we have and how we’re going to market that.”
And then there’s Richard Branson, the founder and CEO of the Virgin empire, who said that “when we started Virgin Atlantic thirty-years ago, we had one second-hand 747 competing with airlines that had on average 300 planes each. Every single one of those airlines has gone bankrupt because they didn’t have customer service,” he said. The importance of empathy and optimising the customer journey is plain to be seen from Branson’s quote.
“Everything in the end comes down to customer service and the people who are serving you and whether they’re proud of the company and the only way you can actually have people working in a company that are proud of it is if you give them the tools and give them every little detail.”
As always, it’s important to ensure that if you are experimenting with new ways of operating, that your customers don’t pay for your mistakes; nor should your employees for putting their hand up and proposing something different. There’s a chance that suggestion could dramatically transform how your organisation operations, but there’s also a chance it might fail- so make sure your contingency plan in the case it doesn’t work out keeps the damage in-house, and your customers are oblivious; ignorance is bliss after all, right?
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