A recent report from McKinsey has urged companies to optimize customer journeys, rather than simply touchpoints.
The report, The CEO guide to customer experience says companies must “identify and understand the customer’s journey.”
It adds, “It means paying attention to the complete, end-to-end experience customers have with a company from their perspective. Too many companies focus on individual interaction touchpoints devoted to billing, onboarding, service calls, and the like. In contrast, a customer journey spans a progression of touchpoints and has a clearly defined beginning and end.”
McKinsey backs this up with its own research which finds that customer journeys are more strongly correlated with business outcomes than touchpoints.
A recent McKinsey survey, for example, found that customer satisfaction with health insurance is 73 percent more likely when journeys work well than when only touchpoints do. Similarly, customers of hotels that get the journey right are 61 percent more willing to recommend than customers of hotels that merely focus on touchpoints.
In TM Forum’s customer experience survey in the fall of 2015, a full 98 percent of all respondents said that understanding customer journeys is either very important, or important.
The benefits of customer journeys
Rob Rich, Managing Director, Insights Research, TM Forum, identifies the following benefits of customer journeys:
- It helps companies think the way customers do – looking from the outside in via journeys is great contribution to achieving this.
- It helps to uncover inconsistencies across channels or touchpoints such as inconsistencies in price, descriptive information, terms and conditions, and more. This might not be clear from touchpoint analysis alone.
- It helps an understanding of how context is maintained as consumers hop from channel to channel. Customers hate having to re-enter data or re-explain something when changing channels.
- By analyzing the journey trends of adept customers, companies could discover more efficient paths to accomplishing goals. They can also then guide less adept customers along the same paths, improving customers’ experience and lowering their own costs as customers won’t escalate queries to a call center or abandon whatever they were trying to achieve.
- It can facilitate or organizational effectiveness as journeys often involve touchpoints that are operated by disparate departments. Analyzing journeys from the outside in can foster a dialog between departments to improve overall effectiveness, transcending entrenched sub-optimization.
- Helps preparations for omnichannel by creating a robust set of journeys that can act as test cases for an omnichannel solution.
How to improve customer journeys
In our most recent edition of Perspectives, When ecosystems collide, innovation explodes, Rob shared the following advice:
- First, an ‘outside in’ perspective is key, and a company must continually reinforce its value. It is easy to fall into the trap of preconceived and biased thinking about what a customer should do rather than understand what they actually do and why, based on the systems and setup you have, instead of what customers want. It is also important to use language familiar to the customer to create context for changes made and for communication about them.
- Second, recognize that some journeys are more important than others. Depending on the target customer base and their behavior, certain journeys may be prioritized to improve their experiences. Some believe customers should be able to do anything via any channel, and some channels and paths more naturally lend themselves to better outcomes than others and improve overall affordability for service providers. Prioritization is a critical step to success.
- Third, look at simplifying operations when analyzing customer journeys, especially in those that cross-organizational boundaries.
- Seamless experience is very hard to accomplish without simplicity. Finally, describe outcomes and set proper metrics to measure progress against goals and improvements in customers’ experience, as well as better, related outcomes. They could include increased conversion rates, greater transaction values and process-oriented cost
TM Forum’s Customer Experience Management suite of tools and best practices, including a Customer Experience Lifecycle Model and a range of use cases, provides practical help with mapping and using customer journeys.