I originally wrote this post for Wix Answers. It appeared on their site on February 3, 2022.
Customer service is not only an important part of the customer experience but also of the success of a business. Get it wrong and a lot of other pieces of the customer experience and the customer relationship with your brand might (will) fall apart. According to Microsoft, 96% of consumers around the world say customer service is an important factor when it comes to brand loyalty.
So how do you ensure that the experience with the contact center, regardless of channel, is a good one? There’s a powerful tool and process to help you understand the current state experience, provide insights into what’s going well and what’s not, and guide you in redesigning the experience of the future: journey mapping.
Journey mapping is both a tool and a process. It is a creative and collaborative process that allows you to understand – and then to redesign – the customer experience. You must view it as the process that it is; otherwise there’s no point in mapping.
Journey maps are a way to walk in – and to capture – your customer’s steps and chart her course as she interacts with your organization (via whatever channel, department, touchpoint, etc.) while trying to fulfill some need or complete some task, e.g., call support, purchase a product, etc. The map (created with customers, from their viewpoint) describes what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling at each step in the journey. With the right data integrated into the map, you can identify key moments of truth, i.e., make-or-break moments or moments during which the customer decides if she will continue to do business with your or not, and ensure that those moments are executed flawlessly going forward.
Important to the journey mapping process is to have the right customers and the right stakeholders in the room to create the maps. The right customers are those for whom you’re mapping, obviously. We typically identify the personas for which we’ll map before beginning any mapping workshop; the right customers will represent those personas. The right stakeholders include individuals from the cross-functional departments that are either directly or indirectly involved in the journey that you’re mapping. This latter point is important, and I’ll address it more in a moment.
The customer service experience is one of my favorite journeys to map because it is such a rich experience; it affords such a huge teaching and learning opportunity. Why? Most people assume that the customer service experience starts and stops at the contact center.
This simply isn’t true.
Consider this. People contact customer service when the product isn’t working right; the documentation isn’t clear; marketing set expectations that the product didn’t deliver; sales sold the dream and not what the product actually does; the invoice is not accurate or hard to decipher; or for a variety of other reasons. Something (i.e., the experience) broke down somewhere upstream, long before the customer even thought about contacting – or even wanted to contact – customer service.
When messages are misleading or confusing, when the customer has a complaint about an interaction or a transaction, or when something doesn’t work the way the customer expects, the experience is broken. The resultant action: the customer contacts customer service to get help or to get answers.
This contact isn’t customer service’s fault; we have to get to the root of it. This isn’t a breakdown in service; this is a breakdown in the experience. Unfortunately, customer service takes the beating and the anguish from the customer for something that could’ve been designed better upstream. Had that proper design occurred, the number of frustrated customers contacting customer service would be drastically reduced.
How does journey mapping help tell this story?
As I mentioned earlier, when we map any experience, we must ensure that the right stakeholders are in the room. Having various cross-functional representatives in attendance is even more important when we map a customer service experience. Among the stakeholders will be individuals from each of those upstream departments where issues are created; we want them to learn how their departments impact (a) the customer and her experience, allowing them to identify strategic fixes that need to be implemented going forward and (b) customer service representatives and their contact volumes, as reps attempt to fix the experience at an individual, tactical level.
It’s important to get the end-to-end experience right. Design it to be simple, to meet customer expectations, to allow customers to painlessly do what they’re trying to do. And you’ll take a load off your contact center.
To help you get started with journey mapping, we’re providing a template to ensure you capture the essential information from your customers about the experience. Remember, they need to be the ones to tell you what the experience is. Don’t fill a room with employees and create the map that way. This is all about your customers and what their experience is, not what you think the experience is.
And don’t forget that this is just one step in the process. There’s more work to be done!
Maps are essential. Planning a journey without a map is like building a house without drawings. ~ Mark Jenkins
Annette Franz is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. In 2022, she published her second book, Built to Win: Designing a Customer-Centric Culture That Drives Value for Your Business (Advantage|ForbesBooks), which is now available to purchase on Amazon, Books A Million!, Target, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other outlets around the world! Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.