Today’s post is the second in a two-part series by Ben Motteram, customer experience strategist and founder of consulting firm CXpert. (If you missed the first part, here’s the link.) I share this series because it covers a hot topic in customer experience circles today: journey orchestration.

As a reminder, Ben recently had a conversation with Jon Briggs, Executive Vice President of Commercial Payments at KeyBank, and Tim Attinger, Co-Founder and President at OvationCXM, about how KeyBank significantly improved customer retention after implementing OvationCXM’s customer journey orchestration platform, CXMEngine. This post is an edited transcript of the second part of their conversation.


In the first part, we left off with Jon talking about how he built the business case. Let’s start with some details from Tim.

BM: Implementations rarely go exactly as planned. What challenges were experienced in this implementation and how were they overcome?

TA: Well, first and foremost, I’ve got to give Jon and the folks at KeyBank credit because we spend a lot of our time in the enterprise financial services space, and, as you can imagine, enterprise banks are not what you would call the most fleet-footed organizations on the planet, but KeyBank was uniquely speedy in that respect. 

Not every financial institution has come to the realization that once they get a customer to sign up for something, it’s taking them live and the ongoing servicing that is that customer’s experience of their bank. That’s their brand. So if you’re not laser-focused on that, you don’t have that customer. They may be using you, but you don’t have them. 

So the first part of the process is diagnosing the problem. What do you tackle first? How do you start with a challenge that is this large? And our solution to that was going through a series of journey mapping exercises that included folks in the product organization, folks on the sales team (because they have high degrees of visibility into challenges), as well as servicing teams and the third-party partner. 

And going through the process of mapping, we defined what that experience looks like today. We wanted to understand it in excruciating detail so that we could say, “Okay, this is what it’s like for a customer to go through this.” And the only continuity in this entire process is the customer. Nobody is managing, step-by-step, what that experience looks like. 

And to Jon’s point around SLAs, you need to overcome that resistance from the third parties within your ecosystem. They’ll say, “But my call times are great, my pick-up times are good, and I answer on the fourth ring.” Those are all touchpoint measures about a particular interaction. What you’re not getting in those measures is that “It took me 6 calls to get one thing done, and I talked to 5 different people.” So getting past that inertia inside the organization is always a challenge. But the journey mapping process does a really good job of flattening that. 

And then, from an implementation standpoint, what we do is we take the journey map, and that becomes the roadmap for the implementation of the platform. You go, “Okay, here’s this problem. We can eliminate these four steps and make this, ‘that is really bad right now,’ go really well by putting in this capability and turning on those features.” 

So, that process then helps us with our customer success go-live process: here’s what you need to turn on first to make a massive difference. Then a big part of embedding the solution into organizations internally and third-party externally, and making the orchestration really seamless, is connecting the platform into the systems where those people internally and externally spend their time – where they live and breathe. 

Fortunately, that’s often some CRM ticket management/case management system where, again, somebody’s managing an individual interaction, but they’re not stringing all of that together into an orchestrated journey. So getting that connectivity established, working and humming in this particular case with their third party partner, Fiserv, who I think is the largest processor for merchant payments in the United States, that was a lift. Getting that to work, getting that implementation in place, and making that data flow really sing was hard work. Because at the end of the day, KeyBank has identified this customer as X, this third-party may call them Y, and to Jon’s point, now we’ve added four more partners – they may all touch that same customer with different products. We need one way to identify that customer at KeyBank. 

So, that data mapping is an effort, but I think the payoff is great because then you get somebody who can sit back at command and control at KeyBank – and Jon has an organization there that does just this – and say, “Okay, I’m looking at you, Ben. You’ve got these four products. Here are the three journeys you’re on with those four products. This is the stage you’re in now. You need to do this.” 

And if an executive asked me this minute, “Where is this product with Ben? Why aren’t we live?” I can say exactly where it sits and who’s got next. And I can nudge the customer along when they’ve got an action item that they need to take. So building the connective tissue is work; diagnosing the problem and then prescribing the solution is also work. But it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say they’re insurmountable challenges – it’s just the stuff we do every day in order to make something like this happen. 

And when you take a step back and think about what it delivers to a banker or an enterprise client, it means they can drag and drop and orchestrate customer outcomes across multiple product suites and manage those customer experiences in real-time from their desks. Setting up the infrastructure for that is work, but the payoff is pretty good.

BM: Jon, you mentioned that you had a 4x increase on what you’d originally forecasted for retention. Were there any other unexpected benefits you got that you didn’t foresee?

JB: Yeah, it may be just pulling on Tim’s journey mapping thread, but I think that one of the biggest values we got out of that process was that we were truly putting ourselves in the client’s shoes when we started to walk these journeys. We were doing it with our partners. What Fiserv wouldn’t appreciate is that clients that are going through an onboarding journey for merchant services are also going through an onboarding journey for a basic checking account or for a card product. And this is all happening concurrently. 

From the client’s perspective, they don’t see KeyBank as “here’s the DDA team – they have their process. Here’s the merchant team – they have their process. Here’s the card team – they have their process.” They see a single institution, and they expect an experience that’s well-orchestrated and stitched together. I think there’s nothing more powerful than one of the journeys we walked through for onboarding a client. I think there were something like 13 emails that our clients were receiving from us and our partners with conflicting information. It suddenly becomes tangible when you’re talking about impacting the client experience when you can serve that up internally to say, “Here! This is what it is we’re trying to solve.” It becomes very real. 

BM: What can others learn from your experience?

JB: The advice I would give is to embrace the hard work. The hard work is where the value is, and that hard work is in the journey mapping. It’s in getting that data foundation – that singular source of truth. Embrace it. That’s where the detail lives, and that’s the foundation of being able to deliver a phenomenal client experience. That’s one.

The other is to embrace walking the journey in your client’s shoes. And sometimes it’s painful to see it. There are some real doses of honesty of where there’s opportunity.

And then typically, as Tim said, OvationCXM is serving a lot of large financial institutions and enterprise-type clients; figure out who the internal village is upfront because it does take a village to oftentimes make these things successful. It’s part of the planning; being thoughtful around that and making sure you have all the right people at the table. It’s going to make it go a lot faster than it would otherwise.

And maybe just the last thing I’d add is: stop thinking about customer servicing and onboarding as a cost center. Try to shift the mindset and think of it as a profit center. Like, “How can I optimize this? How can I drive a better onboarding experience to get the next “at bat” for the next product or offering? And how do I delight my clients and every servicing activity so they’re happier, they’re stickier, etc.?” It’s a mindset shift that I think is required to be successful here.

BM: Tim, you’ve done a few of these implementations. what advice would you have for others on this path?

TA: I mean, I would certainly begin by echoing what Jon said. You’ve got to embrace the hard work, and you have to take the customer perspective back. And one of the things he mentioned is slightly nuanced, but it’s super important. CX is not slapping a digital interface on top of an existing business line. That’s not what we’re talking about. Digital transformation doesn’t mean throwing up a chat widget. 

Customer experience transformation means changing how customers traverse your organization and your ecosystem as they try to accomplish something. So it’s taking that sort of marketplace-back approach. And so, as a result, you do, to Jon’s point, need to embrace the fact that what you’re doing here is building capabilities to deliver great CX. You’re not building a measurement tool to go hash it out with your third party about, to his point, SLAs. 

Another thing that makes a lot of sense is to start the way KeyBank did. Find a business line, find a product solution, find a super broken journey. Once you map that out and solve for that and proven that there’s value, then you can go on and unlock a whole lot of other stuff. 

But boiling the ocean is not the way to start. Pick a place that’s going to have an impact big enough to matter and where you know things aren’t great, and show some improvements. And you can do that fairly quickly with a flexible infrastructure. Aside from the multiple iterations it took Jon to get the connectivity tuned up with Fiserv, most of the other stuff we put in place within a matter of weeks, if not months. 

BM: So it’s weeks you’re talking about?

TA: Yes, our target average is 60 to 90 days. It’s usually within a quarter. And again, because it’s a cloud-based system, all configuration tools are there. We’ve got to plug into your communications infrastructure which we have pre-builts for. And we’ve got to plug into your internal CRMs and case management systems, and even external ones. We’ve got pre-built connectors into just about every major system. The key is then, once it’s in place and data is flowing, making sure that you know the data is accurate and getting it clean. 


Thanks, Ben, for sharing that interview with us. Lots of great lessons. KeyBank’s learnings are exciting and inspiring for others, and the results were pretty amazing!

About Ben

Ben Motteram is a customer experience strategist with over 25 years of experience developing customer acquisition and retention strategies that have increased growth and created loyalty. He founded a consulting company, CXpert, in 2014 with the vision of contributing to a world where customers feel valued by the organisations they choose to give their business to, and employees are inspired to do their best work every single day. He now works with some of the world’s most recognisable brands in areas such as strategy, culture, and customer and employee experience. Connect with him on LinkedIn and/or follow him on Twitter.


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 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 EX and CX game.

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