An approach to Customer Experience management to focus on finding the right opportunity for the right reasons.
Journey Excellence defined
Journey Excellence is an approach to Customer Experience that emphasises capitalising on the right opportunity for the right reasons through deep customer insight, a clear journey framework and a standardised way of working.
In this article you will:
- Learn what Journey Excellence is
- Understand the ingredients to deliver CX
- Discover 3 smart methods anyone can master
- Define what the path towards Journey Excellence looks like
- Know where you stand using our short Maturity scan
Unlike CX Management of the past that emphasised optimising the delivery of improvements based on past data, Journey Excellence places special emphasis on finding the right opportunities, in the right journey, for the right customer, employee, client, patient, user, or basically anyone you aim to serve with your product or service. It aims to reflect a customer-obsessed mindset from your team and streamlines their way of working that directly targets opportunities in the customer journey. This means less effort is wasted working on things that customers don’t really need, and valuable resources are allocated to profitable opportunities.
You’ll know your business is on the right track when you get that sense of pure excitement from your customers. When they tell you their journeys are full of your products and services that fit their needs that is. But let’s face it, in most cases, it’s far from that.
Journey Excellence is an extension of CX management and Agile product development. For the simple reason, that real customer experience is based on how your product or service fits into your customer’s life, the way you design the journeys is just as important.
Why Journey Excellence?
As a CX expert, you typically have a deep understanding of customer needs and business priorities. But unless you are able to pro-actively rally the rest of the organisation around the customer journey, showing what to do next and why important stakeholders might ignore the needs of customers altogether. Despite both CX and agile product development having a strong focus on the customer, the latter often fails to include the customer in the feature-shipping workflow.
The problem becomes obvious when your teams lack a system to provide an overview of all customer journeys. The result is a steady stream of opportunities based on the usual data dashboards, epics and gut-based decisions. The impact of not including customer journeys in the workflow can’t be seen in data but is definitely visible on the floor:
- A worn off the team, often irritated by the effort it continuously takes to align with colleagues
- No groundbreaking experiments; just more of the same iterative sprints in a dull direction.
- People have stopped hoping to find a pot of gold and have accepted that they’re just throwing money in a wishing pond.
- Nice charts that could resemble pretty much anything, but no true customer insights to enrich the use case.
Sure, this may sound overstated, but if you recognise some aspects of it in your team, it’s worth reading on. Also, if you aim to create a widely-admired customer experience that turns into real revenue, the path towards success involves Journey Excellence.
The way towards great CX
The customer journey mapping, by means of visualising a customer experience based on qualitative input from real customers, is evolving. Companies who strive to offer a seamless omnichannel customer experience realize that a few post-its on a digital whiteboard might get the initial journey going, but lacks any connection between elements. How can you expect your organisation to collaborate effectively across journeys when work revolves around e-mail, chat and a (digital) whiteboard?
While measuring customer experience, interpreting (big) data will not tell you why things are why they are. At best, they reveal what has happened and how large the event was. It gives you a hint of where to look for answers. To create a delightful customer experience, knowing why people do what they do is just as important as understanding what they did. If you are able to reveal every opportunity in the context of the customer experience, making business-decisions is a hell of a lot easier.
As the omnichannel experience continues to grow more complex, teams who are responsible for delivering great solutions will be managing an ever-increasing number of customer journeys. Does your team have a system for capturing the right opportunities at any stage of the customer journey? The more you can show how everything is connected, the better everyone will be able to make customer-centric decisions leading to a better customer experience, a higher NPS and a longer customer lifecycle.
How do you achieve Journey Excellence?
Through conversations with hundreds of CX managers at many organisations around the world, we’ve discovered that the ones who are able to deliver Journey Excellence have mastered:
- Gaining deep customer insight
- Standardising a Journey framework
- Customer-centric prioritisation
Gaining deep customer insight
The entire team has a deep understanding of how customers experience their journeys and what they need next.
The best teams have a structured workflow to find insights obtained through direct interactions with customers. They master the skill of validating insights and connect them to the right step of the customer journey. Using Personas gives you another dimension to looking at the same journey through the eyes of different customers.
CX Managers, Marketers, and UX researchers interview customers before journey mapping takes place. Insights get validated and structured into the journey using personas. Also, these teams know how to take other stakeholders on the journey too. In the absence of standardised formats for personas and journeys, this is kind of hard to do. Because finding insights, pains and gains and creating visual journeys and need-based personas is second nature to your experts having an insight capturing system in place accelerates every project they do.
Standardising a Journey Framework
Everyone in the organisation understands what the customer experience is like and there is a standard process for working with journeys.
With so many journeys (big and small) all over the place, it’s easy to get lost. Making decisions based on gut-feel or spreadsheet analysis is not uncommon when you don’t see the big picture. Having the ‘CX blinders’ on is especially common in organisations that have a vertical structure where departments traditionally don’t talk to each other. The customer journey, however, breaks through these artificial walls like they don’t even exist.
That’s why the most effective organisations have a framework or hierarchy for all their journeys. Customer journeys, Employee Journeys, Client Journeys, you name it. No matter how large the organisation, there is always a simple way to structure journeys using a simple framework. Some organisations organise all their customer journeys against the Customer Lifecycle as a reference, other organisations have an ecosystem of brands and journeys.
There is one common pattern amongst the most successful organisations: they all work with ‘current’ and ‘to-be’ journeys. No matter how many journeys there are if you know exactly what to do next and why for each of them, prioritisation across journeys is as easy as 1-2-3.
Everyone across the organisation prioritises based on a common set of rules.
Using a continuously updated list of Opportunities obtained from all journeys within the journey framework, they know how to align teams, stakeholders and make sure everyone agrees, including the customer.
The most important asset they have is an objective method to score all the opportunities in the ecosystem. Because this scoring is done from the customer’s perspective, the score does not resemble whether some touchpoint is good or bad, ideally it reflects what people need and what your business aims to deliver. Having customer-centric prioritisation in place only works when you are clear on what your business will and will not do. Business-centric values are just as important. Combined, they make sure bias, opinion and ‘vetoing’ stay out of the room when decisions get made.
- If you have great customer insights and a journey framework, but a prioritisation model is not in place, you will lack strategy;
- If you have a great journey framework and can prioritise opportunities across them, but do so without customer insights, you are missing out on why people do what they do, and;
- If you do know how to prioritise opportunities in a smart way, have deep customer insight but lack a journey framework then an overview is impossible to get.
True CX leaders ensure that making decisions on what to do next and why is not based on a black box. They understand everyone in the organisation is working on improving the Customer Experience. They ensure the outcome is not just a journey map, but rally everyone around a common vision for customer experience. Business and customer priorities become equally important and decisions get made in the context of the entire CX. Customer-centricity is everyone’s priority. Does this sound like a faraway future? It shouldn’t be.
The 5 stages towards Journey Excellence
Working with many organisations around the world, speaking to hundreds of managers and seeing thousands of journeys, we see most organisations transform towards Journey Excellence through 5 common stages.
Stage 1: Intuition-driven
Where everyone has a different idea of what customers need.
Stage 2: Introducing Process
Where methods are not yet being standardised and teams use different tools.
Stage 3: Journey-driven workflow
Where process means including journeys in every project.
Stage 4: Company-wide framework
Where customer journeys start shaping strategy.
Stage 5: Journey Excellence
Where The entire team has a deep understanding of customer experience and journeys are considered the single source of truth.