Five Questions That Drive Customer Journey Thinking

Customer journey maps (CJM) are one of the most popular CX tools and a frequent topic that people ask me about. Temkin Group even offers CJM workshops.

CJMs are a representation of the steps and emotional states that a customer goes through during a period of time that includes (but is not limited to) interactions with an organization. CJMs are valuable because they help identify how a customer views an organization by putting company interactions in the context of the customer’s broader activities, goals, and objectives. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not a map, but the understanding that is developed through the process that allows organizations to design better experiences and measurements.

While customer journey maps can be incredibly valuable, it’s not practical (or even possible) for large organizations to undergo full-scale CJM efforts for all of their customers’ journeys. That’s why we developed the Customer Journey Mapping Pyramid, which identifies three levels of effort through which organizations can capture the benefit of CJMs:

  • Level 3: Customer Journey Mapping Projects. Build journey maps for a few critical customer journeys using significant customer research. These projects require governance, structure, expertise, and dedicated resources committed to this effort which will span over a period of time. The goal: Develop deep customer journey maps that drive critical design and measurement decisions.
  • Level 2: Customer Journey Mapping Sessions. Build journey maps for customer journeys using facilitated sessions with subject matter experts (SMEs) and existing customer insights. These sessions can happen during a single meeting as long as the attendees have sufficient knowledge of target customers. The goal: Enable impromptu meetings that examine customer journeys.
  • Level 1: Customer Journey Thinking. Embed thinking about customer journeys into day-to-day decisions across the organization. Teach employees to actively consider why customers are interacting with the organization and think about how those interactions fit within the customers’ broader set of objectives and activities. The goal: Encourage every employee to think about customers’ journeys.

1405_CJMPyramid

The Essence of Customer Journey Thinking

The power of CJMs is their ability to help companies design interactions and measurements based on an understanding of the customer’s perspective. This insight, however, does not always require the creation of a map or any extensive research. Organizations can get a great deal of the value of CJMs if employees actively consider customers’ journeys in everything they do.

To propel Customer Journey Thinking, we recommend that organizations teach employees to consistently think about these five questions:

  1. Who is the customer? Start by recognizing that different customers have different needs. So it’s important to understand who the person is before we think about their specific journey. This is a great place to use personas as a mechanism for describing the customer.
  2. What is the customer’s real goal? Customers aren’t usually contacting your company because they want to, they’re doing it because of a deeper need. To understand how customers will view an interaction and what’s shaping their expectations, you need to think about what they are really trying to accomplish.
  3. What did the customer do right before? (repeat three times) When customers interact with your company, it’s almost always part of a longer journey. So you need to think about where they’ve been prior to the interaction in order to understand how they will respond to an interaction with your company. In many cases, these previous interactions will include people and organizations outside of your company. After you’ve answered this question, ask and answer it at least two more times.
  4. What will the customer do right afterwards? (repeat three times) When customers interact with your company, it’s almost never the last step on their journey. So you need to think about what they will do next to understand how you can best help them. In many cases, these subsequent interactions will include people and organizations outside of your company. After you’ve answered this question, ask and answer it at least two more times.
  5. What will make the customer happy? Rather than just aiming to satisfy customers’ basic needs, think about what it will take to provide each customer with the most positive experience–given what employees know about customers’ real goals and their entire journeys. The focus on customers’ emotional state will help employees stay mindful of customers’ holistic needs and raise overall organizational empathy.

The bottom line: Help your employees embrace customer journey thinking.

P.S. Check out this Temkin Group video about the power of customer journey mapping:

About Bruce Temkin, CCXP
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

5 Responses to Five Questions That Drive Customer Journey Thinking

  1. Bruce,

    This is a great piece–thanks for sharing. You are right on the money with your comments. In addition to the five questions you outlined, I would suggest a sixth: “What will the customer tell others after the interaction?” Is it a positive, negative or (worse) indifferent? The reality is no one talks about a boring business. Are customers talking about their experience with you or are they forgetting about it?

    Mark

  2. Bruce, an excellent post. I recently wrote a LinkedIn post leveraging customer journey thinking for a major brand. You can check it out at: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140523124945-498320-in-brands-we-trust-my-customer-experience-journey-at-panera-bread

  3. Jay Smith says:

    Great post Bruce. Very helpful… Thank you !!

  4. Thorleif says:

    Thank you for sharing Bruce, yet again your insight is an inspiration to us all

  5. Thanks for sharing Bruce! More than helpful: essential.

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