The customer experience lies at the heart of everything you do. Understanding how customers engage with your brand – what they’re feeling at different stages of their journey – guides your decisions and strategies. The thing is, that customer experience is only part of the equation.
As we’ve helped our clients map their customers’ journeys, we’ve learned that their long-term success depends on their employees’ experience just as much as their customers’. It’s easy to look at your business as a set of org charts, process flow diagrams, and strategy documents. But businesses are about people, both customers and employees, and the way the two interact.
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 shaping that culture is easy enough to see in a face-to-face meeting or on a retail sales floor. In the digital world, however, the two groups exchange signals through systems that can enhance the customer experience or totally ruin 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?
Customer and employee 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.
Map the Customer Experience
Everything begins with the customer. You need to know what they do, what they think, and how they feel as their relationship with your brand evolves. Find out how you delight your customers and how you frustrate them.
Go beyond your current reporting to study the customer experience in detail. Monitor their behavior at each stage of their engagement with your business and, wherever possible, speak with customers directly through interviews and surveys.
At the same time, you need to study the employee experience – and not just the people in your workgroup. Every stakeholder who deals with or influences the customer experience needs to be part of the conversation.
The ultimate goal here is to create a shared set of priorities that guide the organization’s decision-making. A cross-functional process will help get the buy-in you need to make that happen.
Your human resources team can be a crucial ally in this. 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 us visualize and evaluate the employee journey from employees’ points of view…. to provide a seamless, engaging, and valuable employee experience.”
Your employee mapping project will reveal insights that HR can use to improve their own processes.
The key to successful employee mapping is creating an environment that lets your employees feel comfortable sharing their frustrations and challenging the status quo. 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.
The first frustrations these workshops identify will be the friction points in your internal processes. What information is missing? What information arrives too late to make a difference? Their feedback will identify the fixes and new processes that could be made to your internal systems.
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. They also need to know which actions are more important than others. Everyone is pressed for time and decisions have to be made quickly. Without clear priorities, employees are left making decisions in the dark and hoping for the best.
Connecting Employees and Customers
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 provide your employees will determine how responsive and adaptive your company is to your customers’ needs.
Use the frustrations voiced by your employees to find out 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?
At this point, you have a map of the customer experience that identifies opportunities for improved engagement. You have a map of the employee experience that identifies gaps in your processes and areas of unmet potential. And you have 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 the maps as lenses to focus those resources on the fixes or new systems that will have the biggest impacts on the customer.
Working Together to Map Success
Developing the most effective workforce possible, and driving the business to new success, all starts with a great journey map. It helps you spot the problems and unmet potential that keep your business from being the best it can be. Linking the customer experience with the employee experience gives the entire organization common priorities and goals that improve the bottom line.
Where Emerge Interactive helps our clients is by bringing 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.
We’ve developed Emerge Insights to give you a more detailed look at how we help companies like yours become more effective at engaging the customer.