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The Requisite Depth of a Modern Customer Journey Map
path to purchase analytics on a customer journey map

The Requisite Depth of a Modern Customer Journey Map

Ever been a part of developing out a Customer Journey Map? If you have, you know that these assets tend to gather dust in a corner and fail to be leveraged by organizations. And if you ask me, that’s a huge missed opportunity.

I recently published a 19,000 word post about modern Customer Journey Mapping which I created with my team over at RocketSource. That post is a doozy, but it’s a worthwhile read. Still, I know how precious time is, which is why I’m here publishing a trimmed down version of the post to help you understand the possibilities behind a map like the one we’ve built. But before I get ahead of myself, let me start by addressing a common question I’m asked… why?

Why Bother Updating the Customer Journey Map?

When I tell people I’ve innovated in the Customer Journey Map, the first question usually asked is why? After all, this asset has been leveraged by leading organizations for years. Still, throughout my career of helping companies all sizes carefully plan strategies and carve out innovative ways to maintain brand relevance, I’ve noticed something critical. Companies who aren’t pushing the limits on developing out sublime experiences for their end users are falling behind.

Think carefully about some of the organizations which have quickly climbed the leader board. Netflix started as a DVD rental service by mail and is now its own media production company. Amazon started as an online bookstore and is now partly responsible for the shuttering doors of many brick-and-mortar retail businesses. These companies, along with dozens of others, have one thing in common — they’ve transformed the digital experience.

Digital transformation isn’t just a nefarious buzzword. It’s a critical initiative driven by the modern consumer’s heightened expectations — because let’s face it, modern consumers don’t go easy on brands. Answering those new demands requires having the right team on board.

I’ve talked about the importance of having a modern marketing team before, but never has the need for more skilled employees been so strong. Specifically, filling that team with V-Shaped employees.

v shaped team members in the customer journey mapV-Shaped employees are those who can communicate across all departments. As you’ll see below, this cross-departmental communication is even more critical today than it has been in the past because digital transformation is now forcing teams to shake off any cobwebs that were built while getting comfortable in their role and start skilling up.

skills gap in the customer journey mapTake a look at the future job up-skill route. Very few jobs are stable without the risk of technology coming in and forcing change. I don’t show you this image to scare you. I show it to you to emphasize the point that digital transformation is a real thing that requires our full attention. Without forward-thinking, organizations will continue to go the way Sears’ did against Amazon, or Blockbuster did against Netflix.

Despite witnessing shuttered windows on once-thriving retail stores, and the complete disruption of industries that were once were rock solid, many companies aren’t doing the work to transform. Specifically, they’re ignoring what’s happening along the customer’s journey and are instead making critical decisions based on assertions, gut reactions, and limited data or experience. I learned early on just how dangerous this approach is for innovation.

A Brief Backstory of the Creation of the New Customer Journey Map

One of the things I geek out over is behavioral psychology. I love trying to figure out why a customer would buy one item over another of seemingly equal quality. The way people function fascinates me, and that fascination has served me well throughout my career — specifically when developing the modern Customer Journey Map.

The development process began with a simple exercise called the Hoshin Methodology, which I learned from my incredible mentor, Mary Ann Holladay. Silent collaboration is the core pillar of this methodology. Silence equals agreement, especially in brainstorming sessions, which tend to be dominated by a few loud voices. During Hoshin, instead of talking, participants use sticky notes to convey and organize ideas. Here’s what it looks like in action.

I’ve used this methodology countless times in my career, including during my time at iBahn (formerly STSN), where my team and I were tasked with something that seemed daunting at the time — getting more hotels to offer high-speed Internet to their guests. Although that concept might feel archaic now, there was a time when it was hard to get hotels to adopt this new technology.

To accomplish this goal, I worked on a team of six. We jokingly called ourselves the “Sexy Six,” (which truly should make you laugh out loud). Our team was tasked with managing everything from the installation and deployment of the solution to the full adoption and growth in every hotel. To tackle such a complex task, we used the Hoshin process to visualize our customers’ journey.

Here’s an idea of what those iterations looked like over the years we worked on honing in this process. I looked everywhere for actual pictures of them, but didn’t have much luck. These are the closest I’ve found.

evolution of the customer journey mapThe various colors of sticky notes represented the various cohorts we were targeting. We separated those notes into categories based on the qualitative and quantitative data we were collecting at the time. As we started to map these out, we were able to better see what was happening along our buyer’s journey, both during the path-to-purchase and along the path-to-loyalty. That last part should sound familiar — it’s representative of the bow tie funnel I’ve shown you before.

A Customer Journey Map That Honors the Bow Tie Funnel? You Betcha!

I mentioned earlier that leading brands are in the top spot because of the way they’re answering the modern consumer’s desire for a better experience at every stage of their journey. To reach this point, these leading brands know that the experience doesn’t stop when the purchase is complete. The modern marketing funnel extends well beyond this point in what I call the bow tie funnel.

bow tie funnelYou’ve probably seen this same funnel while poking around on In The Know. I’m bringing it up again because it’s an important consideration as you think about how your customer interacts with your brand. Since I’ve covered it in depth before, I’ll just summarize the biggest takeaways here.

  • Every stage of the funnel is critical, especially what happens after the purchase.
  • Consumers should receive the same amount of nurturing after the purchase as they do before the purchase.
  • This funnel doesn’t end. It repeats on a loop as the customer continues to engage with your brand.

These elements are critical in driving incremental growth to any organization; and it is for this reason that I included it in one of my past iterations. Still, the map lacked other critical components. So my team and I continued iterating until we arrived at the first Customer Journey Map which acknowledges the sophistication of the modern consumer. We call it the Customer Insights Map.

Before I unveil the map, I want to give a quick disclaimer. If you and I were to talk about Customer Journey Mapping over a cup of coffee, you’d hear me drop the term Customer Insights Map. That’s because the map I’m about to show you is filled with rich insights that can serve as a foundation for larger transformational initiatives. For the sake of this post, I’ll continue using the term Customer Journey Map because it’s more relatable. I don’t want terminology to trip you up when we look at some of the bigger things at play here.

Presenting the Customer Insights Map

I have to be upfront with you; this map isn’t completely new. Until now, the team at RocketSource and I have kept it behind closed doors, only unveiling it during our LevelNext MasterClass Workshops on Modern Business Transformation, including my own brother, who is the leading Microsoft solution architecture consultant to the CIOs of every major university in the country. Now, I’m finally ready to raise the curtain to this much-needed update on the traditional Customer Journey Map.

Get ready! This map isn’t for the faint of heart. Here it is in all its splendor.

modern customer journey mapAt first glance you’ll notice that this modern Customer Journey Map infuses irrefutable facts (analytics) and traditional approaches to understanding the buyer’s journey (journey mapping). Without adding a layer of intelligence, you’ll continue relying on gut reactions to make transformative decisions. You’re smart, so I don’t need to tell you why that’s such a risky approach in today’s competitive climate.

At second glance, you might notice something else — the journey above stops after the purchase was made. Remember what I said about needing to nurture the customer equally pre- and post-purchase? We’ve made that possible by also building out a path-to-loyalty side of this Customer Journey Map.

path to loyalty customer journey mapOn both sides of the map, you’ll find the following breakdown of information available:

  • Thinking. The thought process that goes into the purchase at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
  • Feeling. The emotional triggers your customers experience at each stage of the journey.
  • Saying. The outward expression of the emotional and logical triggers.
  • Touchpoints. The specific touchpoints in the buyer’s journey.
  • Experience Mapping. A quantifiable score, which signals the effectiveness of individual touchpoints at each stage for both the customer and the employee.
  • Departments. The departments actively associated with each touchpoint.
  • Platforms. The platforms in use or needed, the cost of each platform, and their impact on the overall experience.
  • Assets. The assets available at each stage.
  • Opportunities. Opportunities to improve the buyer’s journey overall.
  • Metrics. The metrics which are most crucial to collect and compare over time specific to the business priorities at each stage of the journey.
  • Path-to-Purchase Comparison. An intelligent comparison of two paths-to-purchase.
  • Legend. Clarity around what’s measured and mapped.

On the surface, this map looks beautiful, wouldn’t you agree? As you dig into what’s available here, you’ll quickly find that the opportunities, details, and nuances are even more potent. As I mentioned, I could talk for hours about this; I have in fact, written thousands more words on it and I talk about it in our LevelNext MasterClass Workshops. For the sake of this post, I’ll give you the top three big takeaways I hope you’ll glean from this modern Customer Journey Map.

  1. It drives the employee experience as well as the customer’s experience.
  2. It gives you deeper insight into which path will bring you the highest LTV for your buyer.
  3. It sets the stage for building out exceptional customer experiences through innovative technology like Microservices and event-driven architecture.

Let’s look a little closer at each of these, shall we?

The Employee’s Experience Drives the Customer’s Experience

In my years of working on a close-knit team, leading teams, and doing consulting work, there’s one thing I’ve learned is true — providing an empathetic reaction to your team’s needs can transform the output you receive. Yeah, empathy is that critical and one of the best ways to show it is by fulfilling your employees’ core needs. Parties and office lunches are nice. So are remote working conditions and flexible hours, but these perks only scratch the surface. To really tug on your employees’ heartstrings, you need to help them stay relevant.

Relevancy is critical in today’s world of digital transformation. Just take a look at some of the upcoming most in-demand skills of leading organizations.

customer journey map future skills neededThese skill sets are significant and, believe it or not, your team wants to be a part of learning what it takes to drive an organization to succeed in the future. Investing in your employees’ growth helps you put the right people on the bus to drive your business forward.

But where do you start? It’s a valid question, answered by mapping out your employees’ experiences on a Customer Journey Map like the one above. In doing so, you will quickly see which skills are needed and wanted; this will, in turn, let you know where you can help your team have a better experience at your organization. We do this using Convergence/Divergence bands.

Quantifying your employee’s experience and mapping it alongside your customer’s experience will let you see where your team is working in harmony with your buyer, and where there are disconnects. Those disconnects illustrate where things are going wrong and costing your organization opportunities.

You don’t have to limit these scores to just the customer vs. the employee, though. The Customer Journey Mapping exercise lets you hone in on various departments to see how well teams are working together internally. One notorious spot for communication breakdowns is between the CMO and the CIO.

As data becomes more accessible, the marriage between the CMO and CIO must be solid. Still, an historic power struggle exists between these two departments, which can stifle the experience both internally and for the customer. This struggle most often impacts the point of purchase when experience is the most critical factor in driving the customer into the path-to-loyalty.

customer journey map bow tie funnelBy mapping the CMO’s and CIO’s scores alongside the customer’s experience score, you can see if there’s a steep drop when the purchase happens. This drop indicates an opportunity for improvement, which can ultimately help reduce attrition and increase the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer.

Mapping experience scores is just one way to increase LTV. Monitoring path-to-purchase analytics is equally, if not more, critical.

Increasing the Lifetime Value of Your Customer’s Via Path-to-Purchase Analytics

Path-to-purchase analytics are hot right now for good reason. The data collected along the path-to-purchase tells a strong story about what the modern buyer wants and how the organization can better deliver on those demands. The opportunities inherent in understanding the modern consumer’s path-to-purchase are so powerful that leading organizations like IBM and ClickFox have developed software specifically around understanding what’s happening at each touchpoint. It only made sense, then, that we also included it in our version of the Customer Journey Map. Here’s how we approach understanding those analytics better.

path to purchase analytics on a customer journey map

A map like this serves as a foundation for finding ways to reduce costs and grow revenues side by side. Here, you’re able to see which path-to-purchase performs the best based on the customer experience score, and which path-to-purchase performs the best based on the cost of acquisition (CAC) and the LTV:CAC ratio.

Gathering these insights isn’t as easy as you might think. At RocketSource, we’ve leveraged machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to kick start the process. Check out this screencast from our Vice President of Data Science, Cassidy Hilton, to get a taste of what it looks like in action.

This is an oversimplified version of what would go into building models to analyze incoming data. We kept it simple to show you how data can be leveraged to build an engine around a Customer Journey Map like this one.

One challenge of the Customer Journey Map we’ve developed is that no two organizations have the same North Star Metric. Each organization’s Customer Insights Map will take a different shape depending on the company’s goals, which makes it dang near impossible to standardize a process like this. But, the more you can leverage these sophisticated technologies to achieve that end goal, the better story you can tell your management team, which can help you get the ear of the C-Suite when developing big initiatives, including digital transformation or customer experience.

Using a Customer Journey Map to Kickstart Your Digital Experience Initiatives

As you start to pull together insights on this Customer Journey Map, you’ll have a choice to make about what you do with this new information. Specifically, how will you leverage it to deliver more personalized and predictive experiences for your customer? And as new platforms are released, you’ll need to decide how to leverage that technology for your organization. One way to answer these questions is through Microservices and event-driven architecture.

Event-driven architecture adopts the messaging you deliver to your customer. Ultimately, it’s how organizations are able to create a more personalized experience across the entire customer journey. Microservices give you the ability to tweak your offering and approach without uprooting everything within your code base. Making these fast changes lets you stay agile in today’s fast-moving market, which is critical as you watch insights flow in based on what your customer wants and needs. Ultimately you’ll use this information to architect a sublime customer experience. Here’s what it looks like when you start to map it out.

customer journey map drives event driven architectureLeveraging this technology in conjunction with others lets you make necessary tweaks based on the feedback you receive. As you pair what you learn about your customer from something like the Customer Insights Map with what you’re delivering, you’re in a prime position to stay agile, adapting your deliverables to the path-to-purchase which yields the highest LTV:CAC ratio.

Bringing It All Together

Boy, did I try to keep this short but it’s hard, especially as you look at the enormous possibilities of digging deeper into what’s happening along your buyer’s journey. As you start to pull together the core elements of having a sound business framework, empathy mapping, your 3 Ps, the Hoshin Methodology exercise, your Customer Journey Map, and path-to-purchase analytics, great things happen.

comprehensive customer journey map exerciseCreating a Customer Journey Map can’t be treated as a one-off exercise that tends to gather dust. It must be leveraged through a fluid process which allows you to develop your product as consumer behavior shifts.

Are you ready to get started? My team and I are here to help via our LevelNext MasterClass Workshops on Modern Business Transformation. Or, if you want to keep sinking your teeth into these concepts, I encourage you to visit the full version of this post on the RocketSource blog under the title, Transforming the Digital Experience via Customer Journey Mapping

Written by Buckley Barlow

Buckley Barlow founded In The Know as a way to help forward-thinking individuals and teams who are responsible for driving growth in their organizations. I try to make the small things learnable so you can make the bigger things happen.

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