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The 5 Critical Steps You Need to Create a Journey Map That Improves Customer Experience

The 5 Critical Steps You Need to Create a Journey Map That Improves Customer Experience

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You may be asking yourself what the differences are between a user, a customer, an employee, or another audience member when creating a journey map. Which journey map should you create? The answer is contingent on the degree of detail you need for your work. All users are people, and these people can be customers, employees, or other audiences your business or organization intersects with. So let’s start with understanding the single most important audience you have — the customer. Without customers, you would not have a business or organization, so understanding their experience is paramount.

Customer experience lies at the heart of everything a business or organization does. Understanding how customers engage with a brand, and what they’re feeling at different stages of their journey guides the most important decisions and strategies. It is important to recognize that the customer experience is only part of the equation.

As we’ve helped our clients map their customers’ journeys, we’ve learned that long-term success also depends on their employees’ experience just as much as their customers’ experience. It’s easy to look at a business or organization as a set of org charts, process flow diagrams, and product strategy documents. But at the core of both are people; customers and employees. Understanding what creates and defines the experiences they have with your business or organization can make or break your continued success and evolution.

Customer experience thought leader Jim Tincher once said, “When your culture focuses more on its own viewpoint than your customers’, you end up with convoluted processes, terrible return policies, and overly-complicated products.”

The interaction and engagement shaping that culture are easy enough to see in face-to-face meetings or retail sales floors. In the digital world, however, customers and employees exchange signals through systems that can enhance the customer experience or completely obliterate it.

How efficiently do those systems work? Do they pass signals to the right people at the right time? Do employees have the context and priorities they need to make the best decisions?

5 Steps for Journey Mapping that Improves Your Customer Experience

Journey mapping gives you the birds-eye view you need to answer those questions and make your company’s relationship with the customer better. It puts decisions in context so you and other company stakeholders can set shared priorities that have the biggest impact on the business.

Step 1. Define Your Audience

We’ve talked about customers and employees as audiences that are important to explore in more detail. But before you proceed any further, it’s essential to establish your audience, and where your energy and time should be focused. If you’re having trouble deciding, we suggest undertaking a service blueprint first. This process is centrally driven by customer actions but reveals touchpoints and internal and external processes involved at every step they take before, during, and after they interact with your business. These touchpoints and processes typically involve other audiences that may be worth taking the time to explore more deeply.

Step 2. Recruit Applicable Stakeholders

Regardless of the audience we’re talking about, your business or organization has stakeholders that understand them intimately. Take the time to find them and recruit them. You will obtain essential details from their knowledge. 

The ultimate goal is to collect insights from the stakeholders that track the individual and unique steps the desired audience takes from the start of their journey to its end.

Your human resources team can be a crucial ally in this process. After all, motivating and retaining talented employees are their top priorities. Denise Lee Yohn, author of What Great Brands Do, explained in a recent Harvard Business Review article how she helped a client use employee mapping “to help… visualize and evaluate the employee journey from employees’ points of view…. to provide a seamless, engaging, and valuable employee experience.”

Need to sweeten the deal? Employee journey mapping can reveal insights that HR can use to improve their own processes.

Step 3. Create a Safe Space to Share Thoughts Freely

The key to collecting journey mapping insights is creating a safe environment where stakeholders feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions about the audience. They have to trust that their input will be used to improve the business – and that their words won’t come back to haunt them.

Frequently, the first frustrations shared in these workshops are friction points in your internal processes. What information is missing? What information arrives too late to make a difference? This feedback can identify fixes and highlight improvements that could be made to your internal systems.

Why is creating a safe space so important? Ignorance frustrates top talent even more than broken processes. They want to know how their actions affect the customer and how they contribute to the organization’s success. Stakeholders also need to have actions prioritized by importance. Often, they may be pressed for time, and decisions have to be made quickly.  Having go-to solutions that are vetted by the business or organization instills trust and faith that they’re doing their very best for any audience they serve.

Step 4. Connect Applicable Journey Maps

If you’re mapping a customer journey, consider also mapping the employee journey. These two audiences directly intertwine and affect one another. You can connect your employee maps and your customer maps by tracing the data flows through your organization. In a digitally-enabled world, data may be the only way your customers and employees interact. The context and insight data provides your employees will determine how responsive and adaptive your company is to your customers’ needs.

Use the frustrations voiced by your employees as a guide to determine why information isn’t reaching the right people at the right time. Has information been siloed because a team just didn’t know anybody else needed it? Are you collecting the right information about the customer in the right way?

Step 5. Set Your Priorities

At this point, you may have a journey map of the customer experience that identifies opportunities for improved engagement. You may also have a map of the employee experience that identifies gaps in your processes and areas of unmet potential. And if you’ve connected them, you have also created a map of the internal systems that flow signals between the two groups.

So what do you do first?

The cross-functional process that led you to this point has given you the answer: a shared set of priorities driven by your customer and employee maps. Every organization has finite resources and budgets. Use these maps as lenses to focus those resources on the fixes or new systems that will have the most significant impact on the customer.

Working Together to Map Success

Developing the most effective workforce possible, and driving the business to new success, all begins with an exceptional journey map. It can help you identify the problems and unmet potential that keep your business from being the best it can be. Linking the customer experience with the employee experience can give the entire organization common priorities and goals that improve the bottom line.

Emerge helps our clients by bringing both experience in journey mapping creation, and an impartial outsider’s perspective to the mapping process. We bridge the organizational structure with no other agenda than helping everyone succeed. Our team of creative technologists can be the friends that employees trust to voice their frustrations. And our long experience helping companies like yours lets us guide you through this journey quickly and efficiently. If your team needs assistance in creating journey maps, contact us to see how we can consult and help.