Customer journey steering: how does that work in practice? Here are the 7 steps.

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I believe the switch to thinking in and steering from customer journeys to possibly be the most important challenge faced by organizations today. They have not been designed for this structure, and the customer-centric approach regularly requires them to think outside of their own boxes. And that is tricky these days, with all the existing pressure put on realizing the day-to-day targets within departments. Let alone spending time with other departments to look at the end-to-end journey together. Nevertheless, I feel I have to keep trying. This blog is therefore an attempt to render this complex material simply applicable in 7 steps, based on my practical experience.

Step 1. The customers themselves are your best source of simplicity – start with the customer journey

You always start by observing your organization from the customer’s perspective. Which steps does the customer take with my organization? In other words, establishing the customer journey. By taking a customer-centric approach, you avoid becoming bogged down in the complexity of your internal organization. After all, the customer journey is very orderly, while the internal organization is complex, with its numerous divisions, departments and working processes.
This journey can be very simply established. What often works well, is to take a look at your own website and determine how it describes certain customer processes. 9 times out of 10, it will give you a fairly complete picture of the steps taken by the customer. You can then validate the journey with the various colleagues who all play a role in this journey.

Step 2. Determine which customer processes are most important to start with

Not all customer processes in the journey are equally important. Prioritization of the various customer processes is done from a number of perspectives. What is your objective (customer satisfaction, cost reduction, sales)? How often do customers undertake a certain process? How much image risk do I run in a certain process? How good is the quality of each customer process? How important is the customer process for total customer satisfaction with your organization? Using all this information, you can choose the first customer process with which to start.

Step 3. You now design a customer survey and determine the drivers for each customer process

Let’s imagine that ‘becoming a customer’ is one of the processes identified in the previous step. You now need to look at how customers value this specific process. A detailed customer journey can then be established specifically for the becoming-a-customer process. For example: I check out the website, I complete the application form, I receive conformation of my application, I register for the MyAccount environment, I receive my product or service, I receive a welcoming gift. Have customers share their experience with the steps taken within the becoming-a-customer process.
It makes little difference whether you prefer CSAT, NPS or CES (though I have my own preferences, see my earlier blog). The most important thing is to design your survey in such a manner that you know exactly which drivers have the greatest impact on the satisfaction/CES/NPS of customers within the becoming-a-customer process. After all, effective driver analysis can inform you that improving the website experience is twice as important as improving the application form, for example. This driver analysis should be contracted out to a reliable research agency.

Step 4. Consider the detailed journey of each customer process

Now you know how customers experience the customer process, you can get to work with the initial analyses of why you have been scored well or not. A very simple and effective way of doing so, is to establish the so-called detailed journey of the customer process. All this means is: make sure you have access to all information provided to the customer during the process, print it, pin it to the wall and there you go: a clear picture of how you treat your customers.
The web texts read by the customer, the forms to be completed, the content of confirmation e-mails, the information sent to the customer, et cetera. By then studying this detailed journey with a team of employees from all departments which play a role in the process, you will soon gain insights on how to improve the customer experience. At the same time, each department will become more aware of the end-to-end customer process, rather than its own little section of the customer process.

Step 5. Add relevant management information about the customer process

This is the most important step when compiling an integral map of your customer process, from the channel steering, customer experience and cost efficiency perspectives. In the previous steps, you defined the customer satisfaction with the customer process, as well as the initial sore points in the detailed journey. However, this information only comes from 1 perspective. In order to arrive at a complete picture, you need to add internally available management information.
What else do I want to know: what are my top x call and e-mail reasons in this customer process? What complaints do I receive? Which FAQ/virtual assistant questions do I receive online? What is my conversion percentage for requests? What is my conversion percentage in the MyAccount environment? What is the distribution of requests between the channels (calls, website, tablet, smartphone)? By combining all this information, you gain an integral picture based on customer experience, channel steering and cost efficiency. After all, these three go hand-in-hand if you can connect them in this way!

Step 6. Now choose the main points for improvement, from this integral picture and your targets

In the previous step, you gained a clear picture of your existing situation and the sore points. In order to prioritize, you now add the targets. Are the costs your main challenge? Then you’ll want to start by reducing unnecessary customer contact moments. Is customer satisfaction your main priority? You may choose to add elements which exceed customer expectations in certain steps of your customer process.
No one option is better than another, the crux lies in choosing in-line targets. Especially because you will need the cooperation of all departments in order to achieve the following phase. If your choice of activities here is not in line with the targets facing the rest of the organization, you will be hard pushed (and rightly so) to assign them priority.
The good news is that you can contribute positively to virtually all targets from the customer’s perspective. If you improve my customer experience, by providing better online information, for example, I will have less questions and therefore less reason to call the contact center (unnecessarily). And so three targets are served simultaneously: channel steering, cost reduction and a happier customer!

Step 7. Put together an organization-wide team and get to work on the points for improvement

This team is crucial, as each customer process affects multiple departments. Online, marketing, contact center, back office, they all play a role in the becoming-a-customer process example discussed here. This organization-wide team must however be facilitated by someone responsible for integrally collecting all this information and sharing it with the team. This can be a marketer, a customer experience colleague, someone from the quality department, as long as they have this scope.

It makes little difference who is responsible, certainly in the early days, as long as they adopt the role of making this information integrally available, for action by the team. The dashboard compiled in step 5 then allows you to monitor progress of the measurable results of the improvements very precisely and to adjust them where necessary. You have now established the becoming-a-customer journey, and can apply these tools in exactly the same way for every customer process. Enjoy!

Although the phased plan described above is very simple, its realization is complex within the context of individual organizations. The following blog therefore gives 7 tips on how to successfully realize this method within your own organization.

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