Anchoring customer journey steering in practice. Here are 7 tips.

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In yesterday’s blog I described how you can simply apply customer journey steering in practice, in 7 steps. However, you require many other disciplines within your organization in order to do so successfully. So how does it work? This blog gives 7 tips to help you spread the enthusiasm within your organization.

1. Convince the management and board along the way

I regularly encounter ‘like-minded people’ who are working on themes such as customer experience and journey steering within their own organizations. A commonly heard point concerns their doubt as to whether the management and board believe it important enough. To get started however, you only need one sponsor to say: go on, give it your best shot. If you are to gain more than one sponsor, you will need to prove your value along the way. And rightly so. Working hours can only be spent once, so every manager and every director wants certainty that these hours have been spent as effectively as possible.
Moreover, very few people have a clear picture of this vague phenomenon known as customer experience. Sales are much more easily measured and rendered ‘concrete’, and therefore quickly have priority. You therefore need to make customer experience equally measurable and to prove its benefits. Don’t sit around waiting for support, make sure you create it.

2. Ensure adequate and accurate quantitative data

This comes as no surprise of course, following my previous point. Big data is all very well, but the information supply at the basic level is often incomplete, making big data really a bridge too far. By adequate, I mean that you can use data from various perspectives. Not only customer satisfaction therefore, but also avoidable calls and e-mails. Not only online sales funnels, but also online service funnels. Not only ‘customers who call and customers who don’t call’, but rather a division into various cross sections: new customers, slightly longer customers, customers with and without a MyAccount, customers buying lots of products and few products.
But also ask yourself the question: “Which steps in the customer journey can I even distinguish in my system?” If I only know, for example, that a customer became a customer on a specific date but I have no idea when his application was made, his status e-mail received, his product received and his welcoming gift received, I will struggle to smartly analyze the end-to-end journey.
By accurate data, I mean that you must always persistently ask exactly what data is required to solve your business issue. And that you must always critically determine what data is available. For example, online dashboards may provide multiple definitions of a conversion percentage. Make sure you know which definition is used and particularly which definition you require for your business issue.

3. Ensure painful qualitative data from time to time

Quantitative data give a good idea of scope and are therefore essential. On the other hand, there is nothing like a customer case which has gone dramatically wrong to instill a sense of urgency. And preferably one which has gone viral via social media. Aside from the shock reaction of the ‘Murphy’s Law’ case, this is a good way of analyzing the customer process.
If you take such an extreme case and look at how you could have avoided everything which went wrong, you will soon have a healthy list of sore points. You can then apply your quantitative data in order to assign priority for your improvement points.

4. Get creative when mobilizing your organization

Make sure you remain relevant to the objectives which have priority at that moment. After all, customer experience can be deployed to achieve almost all objectives: cost reduction, better online sales funnels, greater customer satisfaction. However, this is often a barely recognized fact or in any case one which needs explanation. Reduction of contact moments is always the easiest example: as a customer, I don’t want to make three calls if a matter can be sorted in a single call, or if I can arrange it online myself. As an organization, you do not want such necessary contact moments either, due to the costs involved.
Also make sure you have creative ways of getting people on board. Use audiotapes, quotes from customer satisfaction surveys, detailed journey workshops, et cetera. Remember that you won’t be top of the priority list of the people you need, especially not in the beginning. Respect that, and find ways to wriggle your way onto the agenda through enthusiasm and your insight into fact-based problems.

5. Look for the balance between pragmatic and sustainable solutions

Things won’t always go your way, on a number of fronts. Maybe not all the data you need is available as you would like it? Don’t hang around waiting, but work from two angles. Pragmatically, make sure you gain enough information to get started, while initiating a parallel process which will give you the complete information you require, as you would like it.
Take online information, for example. What you would really like to know at the customer level is whether a transaction has been made in a customer’s MyAccount. But as long as that information is not yet available, you can still steer the ratio of transactions made via call and online. This applies to improvement points too. You don’t always want to wait for the ideal framework, but simply want to take action now. Try things out, check whether they work and then decide whether to continue or not. Don’t be afraid to experiment and gradually work towards the desirable situation.

6. Always assume willingness and tardiness

An end-to-end customer journey approach is particularly complex because it involves so many different departments and you therefore need so many different people to get things done. There can be great variation in the interests involved. The priorities of all these departments can differ.
My experience is that while those involved are willing enough, the process often requires great patience. If customer-centric improvements could be made so simply, they would not be an issue with which so many companies struggle. Look for ways of facilitating and informing management and board more effectively, so that they know exactly where they can help and where the issues lie.

7. Organization structure is irrelevant – cooperation is key!

Within various organizations, I’ve discussed the structures of customer process owners/managers versus line managers, and which works best. My conclusion so far is that the organization structure is completely irrelevant. Much more important is the fundamental willingness to cooperate over and above your own department. Once that is in place, any walls formed by structures and KPIs come tumbling down.

Of course it is useful if the various departments can work together on an umbrella goal (or at least not have conflicting objectives), but what matters in the end is whether you are willing to work together to improve the end-to-end journey, even if that means less attention for your departmental KPIs in the short term. At the close of day, everyone benefits from achieving goals which add value for the company as a whole.

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