Top Customer Journey Missteps To Avoid - Part One

By D'Arcy McDonald of CMA's Customer Experience Council

Much has been written about the importance of understanding your customers journey or “path to experiencing” your product or service. Fortunately, over the last couple of years, many advanced techniques have been developed to really understand how your customer considers, tries, purchases, and uses your products.  However, many brands still fall into familiar traps when trying to really understand what their customers go through.  Here are a few classic journey-missteps we hope you avoid in the future.

Where Does the Journey Start/Stop?  Defining the journey too broadly wastes precious resources, and if you’re too narrow, you’re missing value.  For example, should you capture all the steps leading to a shampoo purchase from when the customer first enters the store or when your customer first identifies the need? A best practice is to be as holistic as possible, but be careful.   

Business Casing Improvements: Observed pain points, waste, or customer frustration is helpful in identifying sources of customer irritation or delight, but if you can’t quantify the irritation, the root cause, or the value of the improvement, it will be difficult to secure resources to make the necessary fix.  For example, you may need to count the hand-offs within your organization and the value added/detracted from those hand-offs to determine which pain points or steps are worth eliminating, or improving.  If investment is required to make the fix, you’ll need to quantify the value created, which may be difficult if the result is a faster delivery, improved customer satisfaction, or higher retention.  Get as factual and quantitative as possible.    

Missing the Forest for the Trees:  Sometimes we mistake big and small moments of truth for our customers, and if we do, the chance to make real improvement is missed.  If the ultimate objective is to sell more, where should you focus your journey analysis: on shopping, buying, utilization, returns, billing, or all?  Hopefully you have some insight into which step(s) in the process are having the most negative impact on customers, but if you choose wrong, you may be leaving yourself exposed, or frustrating your customers for longer - much to the delight of your competitors.        

No Two Customers Are Alike:  Whose journey?  Of course you want your journey to be perfect for all of your customers, but there are usually not enough resources to tackle all your segments.  Especially if their needs and wants vary dramatically, choose the 20% of customers who drive 80% of the value and who have incredible influence over others.  Get the experience right for your core customers and others will benefit and follow.  

Everyone Needs to Be in on it:  Breaking down the journey needs to be a team effort. It’s difficult to really understand what your customers go through if the experts, those who know every step intimately, aren’t participating in the review.  Sometimes the biggest wins can be had by parts of the experience no one would have thought of, like shipping, delivery, returns, statements, or legal experiences (does the terms & conditions really have to be that long and confusing?).  This means you need your internal teammates with you.  Focus groups, ethnography studies, lean, or quantitative research are only helpful if all your internal experts are engaged to identify and implement the “right” improvements.    

Lastly, the final misstep is tackling too many journeys and not fixing enough of the irritants already identified.  As you map more and more journeys, customer experience “wins” reveal themselves, and if the list of wins grows faster than the improvements made, you may be better off fixing what you’ve found vs. running up a list of fixes near impossible to get to. 

The next time you undertake a “journey” analysis, be wary of these potential journey missteps. 

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Tags: customer journey, customer experience, business casing, shopping, purchases, stores, shipping