Image courtesy of Pixabay

I originally wrote today’s post for Intradiem. It appeared on their blog on April 14, 2014.  

Can you name one of the most powerful and most important customer experience training tools available to your organization?

If you can’t, I’ll answer that question for you. The most powerful training tool, the one that’s going to help your employees deliver a great customer experience, is a customer journey map.

Are you surprised? Don’t be. It totally makes sense. Read on, and you’ll see why.

So, first some basics. In case you missed all the announcements that 2014 is the year of the journey map, why, and what that means, here’s a little background on journey maps.

What is a customer journey map? In simplest terms, it’s a way to walk in your customer’s shoes and to chart his course as he interacts with your organization (channels, departments, touchpoints, products, etc.) while trying to fulfill some need or do some job.  It allows you to identify key moments of truth and incorporate data that shows how you are performing for the customer at those moments.

There is no right or wrong way to map, i.e., how it looks, but there are some basic components. And the map is created from the customer’s viewpoint, not yours. It’s created through collaborative efforts. It’s shared across departments, throughout the organization. It doesn’t sit on a shelf when it’s completed. And it’s never really complete. It’s not linear, and it’s not static. But it is the backbone of your customer experience management efforts.

Why do you need a customer journey map? Because it helps the organization…

  • be more customer-focused and customer-centric
  • understand the customer and his interactions with your organization
  • align around a common cause
  • speak a universal language (customer)
  • break down silos
  • achieve a single view of the customer
  • improve the customer experience

For the employee, I believe customer journey maps provide clarity in a variety of ways. Most importantly, the maps offer a clear line of sight to the customer.

Why is that important?

When employees have a clear line of sight, they…

  • know how they contribute to the customer experience
  • know what it means to deliver a great customer experience, and 
  • they have the tools and training – and are empowered – to do so

How, then, is it used as a training tool?

The map provides so much great information about each touchpoint, each interaction, in order to facilitate training and coaching about the customer experience, including:

  • who the customer is
  • what the customer is doing
  • how the customer is feeling
  • who the customer interacts with
  • what the customer’s expectations are in the moment
  • where things are breaking down
  • where things are going well
  • what’s most important to the customer
  • if and how the employee contributes at each touchpoint
  • what processes support each touchpoint or interaction
  • which tools facilitate the interaction

It also allows employees to compare and to visualize the actual experience to the ideal experience, i.e., reality versus what it should be or what it’s designed to be. The map provides a lot of information for coaching and training, really adding richness and detail that you wouldn’t get otherwise. And because it’s a living, breathing document, it also provides a lot of opportunities for follow-up training to support the customer-focused culture.

In addition to training, journey maps are also useful orientation tools. Can’t think of a better way, during orientation, to show employees that the organization is committed to customers. What a great way to immediately let a new employee know where and how he contributes and how his contributions matter to the business. What an awesome tool to initiate an employee into a customer-focused and customer-centric culture, to help him see how departments work together, and to teach him about priorities for the business.

Are you incorporating customer experience training into your new-hire orientation as well as into your ongoing employee training? And are you using a customer journey map to onboard or to train your employees in order to reinforce your customer-centric culture? (You do have a customer-centric culture, right?) If not, what are you waiting for?

The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat. -military quote