“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”
- Steve Jobs
The customer, not technology, must be the core of your strategy.
As customers are driving consumption in the digital age, it is necessary to understand that this shift in product or service delivery cannot happen successfully without keeping the customer in the forefront. I recently spoke with a previous colleague of mine who has helped his digital services team re-evaluate their position in service delivery. His opinion, they are now front line staff. Why? Well, who sits between them and the customer?
This way of thinking is imperative for all businesses to incorporate when designing any new or improved service delivery channel. The customer experience will determine whether a customer transacts or re-engages with a company. But how do we understand what impression the customer gets from the product and service delivery methods? Enter the Customer Journey.
The Customer Journey Map is a visual representation of the customer's experience across a company’s product and service lines. They are cross-functional in nature (ideally following the business value stream) and supported with data (something that is increasingly available and valuable in the digital age). They provide a sense of what the customer wants to achieve, and how effective the business is at enabling that desired outcome. This then enables the business to develop and deliver targeted initiatives to meet these customer needs.
Customers who have good experiences with a company are more likely to stay on as customers, increasing their total spend, and just as importantly, increasing the likelihood that they will pass on positive sentiments to other potential customers. A poor customer experience then increases the chances for the exact opposite.
The customer journey doesn’t just need to be externally focused. Internal processes have customers also. Onboarding new staff can be an expensive and frustrating experience. Ever turned up to a new job only to be told you have no place to set-up, and nothing to set-up anyway? What about when you request an asset via the on-line self-services portal? How often does this result in increased time trying to find a number to call, out of sheer frustration? Capturing this data and modeling these experiences will provide a greater context for the improvement ahead. By putting the customer at the forefront, the business can make the necessary changes to improve that experience and subsequently improve one of the first impressions a new employee has on their new employer.
It doesn’t matter if your business is implementing a new product or service or improving an existing one. Nor does it matter that your focus is internal, not external, the customer experience matters. Not focusing on this customer journey will reduce the likelihood of project and business success. Businesses exist to service customers, why would you look at it any other way?