A key responsibility for an IT organization is to provide the best-in-class service to its internal and external business partners, stakeholders and customers. This requires an extensive commitment and continuous investments by IT organizations in order to build that best-in-class service through positive customer experience. Yet, financial and time constraints often lower the priority and impede the ability to provide tangible benefits to its customers.
IT leaders can overcome this impediment by using customer journey mapping to provide a positive customer experience and sustaining it in the future. Such a map provides technology leaders with the ability to understand the emotional and aspirational aspects of their customers’ experiences and expectations, and creates solutions to address those needs, the result of which will be exceptional end solutions and products. Customer journey mapping, similar to design thinking, has been successfully used in manufacturing and other industries where there is an expectation to deliver the best solutions within a strict timeline and budget. Technology leaders can leverage it to better service their clients and customers.
Mapping the customer journey
Organizations started using customer journey mapping in the late 1990s. It is a holistic process that assists organizations in comprehending their customers’ struggles by empathizing with customers and providing a visual framework to improve customers’ experiences. When implementing a solution or product for an internal or external customer, technology teams seek to pinpoint the customer’s requirements from a technology point of view. Typically, the team has a limited understanding of customers’ underlying emotional and aspirational quotients. Therefore, during a standard technology implementation, the initial phase of understanding the customer’s needs does not involve building a deeper relationship and trust with the customer and leveraging it to build that holistic picture of customer needs. In the absence of this holistic picture of customers’ needs, the team typically fails to build the ultimate product.
Customer journey mapping, however, bridges that gap by taking the customer interaction and relationship building process a step further by delving into customers’ pain points from an empathetic point of view. A visual map is developed with the key touchpoints where a customer interacts with the organization through process, technology or people. This process helps the organization understand its customers’ end-to-end journeys, key touchpoints, and needs, which helps develop technology solutions that provide better customer experiences when compared with the standard approach.
The appeal of customer journey mapping is that IT leaders can apply it when building a new technology solution or platform for their clients or to reevaluate existing platforms, systems and applications periodically. This ensures that leaders are providing the benefit and value that internal or external customers seek. By using customer journey mapping as a continuous process improvement tool, IT leaders can deliver on their promise of process efficiency and financial gains to the organization.
How to successfully run customer journey mapping
Here are the basic parts to mapping a customer’s journey. These steps can be used when implementing a new technology solution or performing a review of an existing system:
- Meet with the customer and engage in brainstorming sessions. The primary goal of these sessions is to empathize, understand and measure the customer’s expectations,goals, needs, pain points, and barriers.
- Identify the tangible and intangible benefits of the solution that the customer is seeking in the final product.
- List the key interactions the customer is going to have from a people, process, and technology point of view.
- Build a visual view of key customer interactions using a journey map template by placing the interactions against people, process and technology and identify what is working well and what needs to be improved.
- Brainstorm with the technology team to identify potential solutions for the pain points.
- Review the customer journey map with the customers to validate the key pain points and finalize the map.
- Develop a high-level technology plan for the customer based on the customer journey map and review it with the customer.
- Design the implementation plan to meet these expectations and requirements.
- Roll out the solution.
- Return to the customer in six months to a year and talk with the customer about his or her experiences since the launch of the solution.
- Determine if the solution resolved the pain points that were defined and see if there are new pain points to be address around people, process and technology.
- Build a continuous improvement process and perform the customer journey mapping process again to identify and address any potential improvement opportunities around the customer’s experience.
The customer journey mapping process is the same whether the end users are internal or external customers. The map itself can be constructed by drawing it, creating a spreadsheet, or using customer journey mapping programs. The map illustrates the moment the organization started interacting with the customer to the moment the transaction is executed and closed. The bottom line is to increase the probability the solution meets the expectations of the end users.
Throughout this process, the team maps all the necessary pieces that need to transpire to implement or enhance the solution. It might be simple, such as adding new features to an existing system, or more complex if a new application is required. During the customer journey mapping process, the IT team determines which features are related to the most important pain points and then builds capabilities around those features. After implementation, the IT team meets with the customer to engage in another in-depth conversation. This meeting it to determine if each new or enhanced solution met the customer’s expectation. Success is measured by resolving each of the customer’s pain points.
Customer journey mapping is a valuable tool that helps IT teams gain insights from their customers to improve their experiences. By focusing on the customer’s perspective, organizations can create more effective and satisfying solutions.
Syed A. Fazal is Vice President, Process Improvement and Project Management at JPMorgan Chase. His expertise is in identifying, developing and implementing technology and operation strategies to drive business growth, improve performance and profitability.