The Bright and Shiny B2B Customer Journey Map

B2B-Customer-Journey-Map

Today, we had our second call of the week with an executive interested in a B2B customer journey map. A senior exec with a mid-size B2B company, he’s been charged with customer experience improvement.

Drawing out his objectives as well as those of leadership, we discovered what we often do: his goal is to help the company become more customer-centric. First stop? Journey maps.

And he’s not alone; for many in the initial stages of the customer experience transformation journey, it appears that journey maps are the “bright and shiny object” of the moment. While part of me thinks “finally, everyone’s focusing on improving customer experience,” a bigger part is concerned that customer Journey Maps are often thought of as “the” solution to experience improvement efforts. But they’re not.

Excitement and interest is high – but there’s more to improving customer experience than the creation of journey maps.

Recently, it appears that those charged with improving customer experience in their organizations have been looking at customer journey maps with an interest approaching fervor.

Measured on personal experience alone, radically increased inquires and calls to our firm are one indicator. Another is an article I wrote over two years ago for my regular column at CMO.com. That article – Customer Journey Mapping: 10 Tips for Beginners –has been trending among the top 5 articles on that site for the last several weeks. There’s more of course, but you get the idea.

All this interest in documenting customer journeys is fantastic – after all, the best way to improve customer experience is to understand it, and journey maps are great tools for informing that understanding.

Yet while journey maps are effective at helping to understand customer experiences, many are introduced to organizations in ways that don’t truly integrate the outside-in customer research or cross-functional involvement it takes to successfully embed the perspectives that journey maps bring, and drive action on the insights.

And while this may both self-evident and self-serving, I’ll say it anyhow – if you’re exploring journey maps as a tool to improve customer experience, take the time to understand best practices, and be sure to model them. This goes beyond the development of the map itself, through socialization and a plan for action that actually drives change.

When it comes to improving customer experience, journey maps are a critical thing – but they aren’t the only thing.

The most successful maps are those supported by internal perceptions, then validated and refined based on actual customer feedback. And, they are either used in the context of a broader effort, and/or laser-focused on solving problems for a particular segment or channel… with the ability to leverage results to expand journey mapping as well as overall customer experience improvement efforts.

Which is why even a single journey map needs to be looked at in this broader context – from a clearly defined understanding of the business problem you’re hoping to resolve, through to how you plan to actually use what you find to educate others, and take action.

That’s because those who latch only onto journey maps as the solution to better customer relationships may find them joining bright-and-shiny objects such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), CSAT and others as they realize there is no single artifact, metric or system that’ll “fix” customer experience.

The fact is, the pathway to becoming more customer-centric requires a discipline of customer experience management based on a series of cross-org capabilities that, when deployed, have the potential to radically change the ways your company does business.

Yes, journey maps are an important tool in the experience transformation process. But if you’re thinking about adopting them, be sure you’re considering the whole journey before you start – both the customers, and yours.

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