Mind the Gap: Avoid these Customer Journey Mapping Mistakes

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Industry experts uncover common blind spots in customer journey mapping and offer tips on how to fix them.
Customer Experience

Mapping a customer's journey from the initial touchpoint through conversion and support is a logical way to optimize the customer experience. Customer journey mapping helps companies quickly identify areas where customers are dropping off and find opportunities to better meet customer needs. But even companies with a long history of serving customers can miss the mark on delivering the right product or service at the right time.

Here, we look at solutions to help companies get back on track to delivering exceptional experiences.

Setting up your Journey Managers for Success
In its efforts to improve the customer experience, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) fine-tuned its approach to customer journey mapping. Speaking at a keynote session at Adobe's Digital Marketing Summit, Giles Richardson, the banking group's head of analytics, explained why the 289-year-old financial institution with 24 million customers had to improve its digital experiences.

Richardson said RBS' former digital customer experience was "terrible," and consisted of adhoc experiences based on gut feelings and inadequate data insights that were hindered by a backlog of improvements."We didn't really measure anything," he said. "Data was a sideshow and we didn't know if things would work or notwe needed a new vision."

Last year, the bank embarked on a journey to change this through its "Superstar DJs" program, which was designed to make its digital experience more customer-focused and data-driven. Similar to music DJs who are aware of their audiences and constantly experimenting with new content, the program emphasized the importance of tailoring experiences to match customer expectations, and giving control of creating digital experiences to its frontline staff.

The first step was to give the frontline team the control it needed to manage digital experiences. To do this, Richardson said its digital specialists were retrained as a team of about 40 journey managers and the company invested in Adobe's Experience Manager and Analytics platforms to give them end-to-end journey management capabilities.

"Customers come to do stuff. Generally it might be to open a new savings account, get a credit card, or download a mobile app, and all of these are a series of small journeys," Richardson commented. "So we divided our digital team into journey managers, and they looked after an entire journey.

But it's not enough to appoint workers who are responsible for tracking the customer experience. Arming its journey managers with the right training and resources early on was essential. Richardson told 1to1 Media that the journey managers, or DJs, were paired up with analysts who provided coaching on how to better understand a customer journey with data analytics. Each journey manager also had a dashboard that displayed areas of a customer journey that needed attention and a second dashboard to take a closer look at the numbers behind the issue. "This allows you to see what the customer is experiencing and where the fallout is occurring," Richardson explained.

For example, it was noticed that while many people were applying for a loan on a mobile device, they were dropping off before completing the application. A closer look revealed that information about the application process was not mobile optimized, giving customers a "terrible experience when they were about to do business with us," Richardson observed. "To fix that, we re-rendered the CSS to give customers a cleaner and much bigger page and almost immediately the conversion rate went up by 30 percent."

Additionally, the company increased the number of its optimization tests from two in 2014 to about 400 tests by the end of 2015. Doing so ensures that the organization is "only adding new features and capabilities that we know our customers want and will positively impact their experience," Richardson added.

The Importance of being Data Savvy
Taking a data-driven approach to designing the customer journey is critical, agrees Majda Anwar, a revenue marketing coach at the Pedowitz Group, a marketing agency. "I've seen clients do a lot of guesswork with zero validation which greatly reduces the chances that they'll get it right," Anwar says. A rookie mistake, Anwar adds, is mapping the customer journey without customer input. While it's important to get feedback from frontline departments like sales and customer service, "it makes a significant difference when you validate a strategy with the voice of the customer," she says. "The last thing you want to do is confuse input from your company with an actual customer."

April 2016: Customer Journey Mapping Comes Into Focus

Centralizing all relevant data and making it available to the right stakeholders is also important for providing a consistent experience, notes Mayur Anadkat, vice president of product marketing at contact center solutions provider Five9. Contact center agents, for example, often lack access to a customer's buying history and other data points, making it difficult to accurately assist customers.

"Companies have spent a lot of time and money on mapping journeys for acquiring customers, but pinch pennies when it comes to supporting them post purchase," Anadkat says. "What you end up with is a poor experience where existing customers are now dealing with a different part of the organization that has no insight into their relationship with the company."

Business leaders are taking notice and are increasingly investing in integrated solutions such as CRM platforms that are tied with the company's billing, service, and marketing data. Indeed, the need for a comprehensive view of the customer continues to grow as more data points emerge, observes Martin Longo, chief technology officer at Revana, a subsidiary of TeleTech.

But whereas traditional journey maps are based on static data and predefined paths, the proliferation of interconnected devices will lead to "a lot of contextual data that changes on the fly," Longo says. "There's no way an individual can anticipate all the different combinations and permutations [of those data points]."

Longo predicts dynamic, algorithm-based customer journey maps will soon take the place of traditional mapping exercises. Therefore, marketers will need journey mapping solutions that can analyze multiple data streams in real time to offer "next-best action" recommendations for meeting their goals. Simply identifying the right types of data to be analyzed is a challenge in itself, however, and so companies are likely to move slowly in enhancing their journey maps, he says.

Optimized Personas
As the number of touchpoints between a brand and a consumer proliferate, companies will also have to be more strategic in aggregating those touchpoints to deliver a personalized experience. Buyer persona profiles are a common part of a customer journey map. But while it may be tempting to group as many data points as possible, a smarter approach is to prioritize a handful of personas, maintains Peter Haid, managing director of Touchpoint Dashboard, a customer journey mapping provider recently acquired by Strativity Group.

"The highest number of personas I've seen is 12, but five personas that represent your average customers is usually enough," Haid says. "Beyond that, you'll find other people are more like subsets within other personas." But even after finding the ideal number of personas to customize against, companies should be wary of becoming complacent, Haid warns. As customer expectations and needs change, a journey map must reflect those changes and evolve as well. "The point of journey mapping," Haid notes, "is that it doesn't end."

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EXPERT OPINION