Customer Experience is one of the hottest topics discussed in business right now. Almost every journal you read or website you visit seems to be full of variants stating “why it should be important to you” and “how your business will be at risk” if you’re not doing something specific.
But doing what? Customer experience management seems to mean different things to all people and there are just as many arguments about what it means as there are ways of improving those customer experiences.
The first question you might want to ask would be why it is such a hot topic. With customers having a wider choice in just about every field, whether B2B or B2C, the experiences those customers have or will have drives your ability to generate revenue, and of course profit. It’s no wonder that marketing and sales professionals are jumping on the trend of “customer experience-“ big time. However, sales and marketing professionals aren’t typically the people that deliver your service experiences, ship your products, train customers, or schedule resources. In short, they are not the people one typically associates with delivering operational excellence. So, what’s amiss?
Well, perhaps it is a technique known as Customer Journey Mapping (CJM). The technique is widely talked about as THE way to capture and model the way that customers interact with your organization. CJM captures the steps that customers take, the interactions (moments of truth) that they have, and further capture the emotions associated with those actions.
It seems much more like a buyer’s journey, and hence why many in sales and marketing are using CJM to capture, monitor and improve that buying journey. The reality is that a buyers journey is just one of the many journeys that customers may go through with your organization. Others might include getting a repair, moving to a new house, leaving the company, renewing a contract, or purchasing additional products or services. From the customers’ point of view, the steps they go through on their journey may be different in each case.
CJM is a great technique for capturing and questioning journeys, but the map is only as good as the people who create it. It is true that great customer experiences don’t happen by magic. They are engineered to be effective and to deliver consistently great service. Such engineering only happens when you are able to fully connect those customer journeys to the underlying processes that deliver them. However, for the most part, the CJMs are still being created by the same engineers and engineering thinking that you have always used.
This thinking tends to start with examining “what is,” and then building based on what you have. In other words, the initial work is focused on the “now” or “what has been.” However, as Edward de Bono once said “You can analyze the past, but you need to design the future. That is the difference between suffering the future and enjoying it.” This suggests that rather than thinking first about what or why things are as they are, we might be better to focus more of our efforts on designing the future, suggesting that we need “imagineers” not engineers.
Whilst an engineer will look to take something such as a taxi booking system and make it easier to book or pay for a taxi, it takes an Imagineer to come up with the idea of ridesharing like Uber or Lyft. These Imagineers do not start by thinking from your organizations perspective, or map journeys that start and end within your organizational boundary. They start by imagining new journeys that we had never thought possible and then set about building or rebuilding their businesses to deliver them.
Imagineers are the true disruptors, and they are perhaps the biggest threat not just to businesses, but potentially to entire industries. If you think of an electric vehicle, you likely think of Tesla, and for a hybrid- Toyota comes to mind with the Prius. However, most major manufacturers are seeking to make the switch, mostly driven by government regulation.
Beyond this, what you may not know is that DHL is one of the world largest manufacturers of electric vehicles, or that the longest range electric bicycle (226 miles) is not made by a bike company but by Delfast, a Ukranian Courier company.
In terms of transportation, it certainly seems that the collective engineering strength of traditional manufacturing companies is far behind what the Imagineers of new or start-up companies are achieving. I suggest these new entrants, whether they succeed in the long term or not, have proved that success in the 21st century does not come from analyzing the 20th century, but rather looking forward to what life might be like in the coming century.
If you want to look to the future, consider asking arts or other innovative people, without pre-conceptions to start mapping possible customer journeys in your market. Note that those journeys may start and end way beyond your current organizational boundaries.
Remember they are seeking to map those journeys by working back from what the ultimate success from the customer point of view. For example, when taking a flight, your journey doesn’t end at the airport. It ends when you arrive back at your house- hopefully with all of your luggage. When installing cable or broadband in your home, the journey doesn’t end when it is installed or when you pay the first bill. Instead, it ends when you can browse the internet or watch your preferred TV program. If a hospital is to order a new piece of medical equipment, the journey doesn’t end at installation, but rather after the first successful patient diagnosis, or when you get paid for the first scan performed.
Then also consider when a journey starts as a mortgage or loan provider. The chances are that your old journey began when someone applied for a loan. But was that actually the beginning of the customers’ journey? Maybe it was when they decided to buy a new house or a new car or got a big promotion.
Understanding both the true trigger-point and true end-point you can better place yourself in the customers’ journey, which identifies threats to your business and opportunities for growth and expansion. Perhaps it is an opportunity to expand your product or deliver products and services differently. One thing you can be sure of in today’s ever more technologically enabled world is that chances are, somebody out there is conceiving of customer journeys that may involve what you currently do. The only question is, will you imagine a new world and act first, or will you find yourself forced to respond to changes brought about by someone else?
Guest post by Mark McGregor
Currently serving as SVP Strategy at Signavio, Mark was formerly a Research Director at leading IT industry analysis firm Gartner. Mark has been around the BPM market for many years and is widely respected for his knowledge and views on business change. He is the creator of “Next Practice.”