Sometimes we are too close to something – a process, an idea, a product or service – to see it with true, objective clarity and perspective. This can be especially (and paradoxically) true when a notion is born from our own brains. We think we know what it looks, smells and feels like to be a customer consuming the goods or services we offer. But do we? Lets suppose your goods or services are of a complex or technical nature. Can you momentarily erase the industry lingo and specifications you know backwards and forwards to accurately assess the ease by which a layperson approaches and interacts with your business and its offerings?
A customer journey map is one tool that can help you see your business from an outsider’s perspective. Harvard Business Review Blog contributor Adam Richardson summarizes it beautifully in Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience: “A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. The more touchpoints you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes. Sometimes customer journey maps are ‘cradle to grave,’ looking at the entire arc of engagement… At other times, journey maps are used to look at very specific customer-company interactions.”
Why might your business consider this type of mapping? In the CMS Wire article Make the Most of Customer Journey Mapping, Maria Boos of global branding firm Siegel+Gale writes about the need to “invest in customer research to identify true needs, actual behaviors, and real hits or misses in usability… When you compare those true customer insights to the journey map of the current customer experience, you suddenly see where it’s a good fit … and where it’s not. This will show the gaps between the business-centric view and the customer-centric approach. This layered view will help you set priorities, validate or refute internal opinions, and mediate conflicting agendas across business units. After all, the customer is always right!”
While I personally am not convinced that the customer is “always right”, I know they always are the customer and as such need to be heard, understood, and valued. In other words, our perspective from within is not always indicative of reality for our customers on the outside. Both parties benefit when we adjust and remedy the misalignment. Has your business mapped your customers’ journey? What revelations came forth?
While I have helped leaders map customer journeys more times than I can count, I continue to be amazed at what is learned and improved upon when we walk in our customers shoes.