Improving your CX starts with truly understanding your customers

OPINION / 22nd November 2018

How well do you know your customers? And do you know what they really want from you? These two questions underline every good customer experience programme.

The road to excellent customer experience starts with truly understanding your customers. Only by looking at the customer journey through their eyes, and following the journeys they take, can you begin to understand how to improve the customer experience for them. It’s not until you can go through your customer experience journey as your customer and identify the moments of truth, just as they do, will you begin to realise where the clunky moments of friction are between you.

Many organisations claim to understand their customer journey offering, but we often find that businesses assume they know how their customers think, rather than actually knowing.

Whilst many companies see the role of customer experience as improving individual touchpoints along the journey, ORM believes true customer experience is about seeing and mapping the journey as a whole.

But mapping customer journeys is quite an undertaking: a good customer journey map requires extensive research, leg work, and time. If you have business problems bothering you now, investing time in plotting your customer journey map is a hard decision to make. Even if some members of your team are on board, others may not want to go forward with a project that doesn’t have a direct ROI. Not only that, but there’s always the concern that if you do map your customer journey, will it stand the test of time? Poor customer journey maps may end up getting ignored, aren’t realistic to implement and send you back to square one.

With all these barriers, it’s easy to see why customer journey mapping can fall by the wayside. Without it though, long-term digital success is increasingly difficult and overwhelming. Our experience has shown us that businesses who provide their customers with the best experience from start to finish along the journey, enhance customer satisfaction, improve sales and retention, reduce end-to-end service cost and strengthen employee satisfaction.

But don’t just take our word for it. A recent report by McKinsey said that by optimising the customer experience businesses can typically achieve revenue growth of 5% to 10% and cost reductions of between 15% to 25%, within just two or three years.

Moreover, the report said companies offering an exceptional customer experience can exceed the gross margins of their competitors by more than 26%, while they make their employees happier and simplify their end-to-end operations.

Creating a customer journey map

Because of all this, at ORM we always start with customer segmentation, definition and journey mapping – but we also try to make it as painless as possible. We work with what you’ve got to get the information we need; not everything requires hundreds of survey questions and focus groups. We use your previous research, analytics and customer feedback to inform our approach, and then we try to dig deeper through customer interviews or, failing that, insight from your own frontline teams, like customer service or sales.

Naturally the clearer the picture of the customer, the better, but a customer journey map isn’t a single piece of work that gets completed, put in a folder, and shut away. It’s a document that we can improve on: we can add insight to it further down the line; we can focus on particular parts to fill them out even more. We don’t just look at the customer journey map as a reference, we also look it at as an ongoing project.

Once you have your customer journey mapped, we help you make the most of it. It will inform your digital roadmap, your tactical optimisation, and it acts as a tool to get stakeholder buy-in and keep your team aligned. We make sure this one strategic piece of work guides decisions all the way from future areas of business focus right down to individual pieces of content on a website. A good customer journey map, when used correctly, will provide a great ROI for years to come.

As digital developments and customer expectations continue at pace, it’s easy to get wrapped up in buzzwords and preoccupied with tactical changes without a long-term digital vision. At ORM we help you take a step back, look at the whole customer journey and figure out the best moves you can make in the short-term and in the long-term.

Jason Bell Jason Bell Digital Planning Director Jason Bell