Creating a customer-centric business is not just about creating products and services that satisfy; it is also about creating an experience that drives business outcomes. A win-win situation for you and your customers. An approach that has helped many businesses to create a customer-centric business is customer engagement mapping.
Customer journey mapping links the customer journey to the service delivery touchpoints, and how this service delivery is supported by internal systems. Traditionally in a process called blueprinting the map splits service delivery into front-of-office (what the customer sees) and back office (what they don’t). Unlike other types of process mapping used in business, customer engagement maps take a more detailed view of the customer journey and the different channels used to engage customers. We take this process even further by linking service delivery activities to business outcomes they are designed to achieve and we include the multiple types of service delivery channels used to engage customers and deliver the service. Working with a healthcare service client to improve their customer engagement the importance of linking outcomes – many of which were part of senior management’s KPI – showed there were no engagement touchpoints that delivered against ‘customer retention’, this was one of their most important KPI in their growth strategy and which was also reported at the boardroom level.
To illustrate, below is a simplified example of a customer engagement map based on a project we did from a client. The first line in the map outlines the normal customer journey for your business. Depending on your business complexity you may need to create more than one journey, however, keep these to a minimum to avoid escalating business complexity and its associated costs. This stage is followed by a diagram that shows how the customer experience is impacted by each stage and their engagement … your moments of truth. This can show where you are doing well and where you should make improvements. We then show your key business outcomes that you are trying to influence, such as sales conversion, cross-sell, retention, and repeat purchase. This is a critical part in implementing changes and in communicating your strategy with the broader business. The remaining elements show which teams and activities engage with the customer and which provide the support infrastructure.
The above engagement map is only of three outputs and maps from the process. The other two provide the details.
- Customer Stage Summary. Provides greater detail on any sub-activities within an activity, such as the health check activity in the above map. In education and not-for-profits organisations it could be the registration process. This map also shows in more detail where service failures occur and different paths in service delivery.
- Support System Interaction Plan. Sometimes major support systems are shown in the engagement map, as in the above map, to highlight significant issues or a new CRM system, showing all the links to support infrastructure can overwhelm and undermine much of the benefits of communicating the process to others. The Support Systems Interaction Plan provides the details that link engagement activities with the support system.
By mapping each stage, including service failure areas, the gaps and opportunities can naturally emerge from the process, otherwise bringing in other tools like those used in creating Blue Ocean strategies can more dramatically help re-design your service delivery. Working with a financial service client, our mapping process quickly uncovered stages in the customer journey which were black holes and were a driver of lost sales, customer attrition and also in causing long-term issues among those customers who had remained. Another part of the mapping process showed a clear breakdown in what the business promised and what the customer received and had initially seen as a driving factor in choosing that business.
- Who uses customer engagement mapping? Customer engagement mapping is not just for service companies selling to end-user consumers. The approach works equally well with business-to-business, internal customers, and as a framework for pre-selling and onboarding new accounts by your sales team.
- When creating your customer engagement map there are three key questions you need to ask yourself to ensure you deliver a successful model that is implemented.
- What is the scope of the customer journey? What is the scope of the customer journey? Prior to becoming a customer, expectations are being formed. However, the map needs to cover where you actually engage your customer or potential customers. If the scope is too wide, the project becomes too expensive and can’t be implemented: Too narrow and will miss key points of engagement.
- What is the right level of detail? A customer experience map can be designed around key stages in the service experience or take a fine grain approach and include what happens within a specific engagement, such as opening an account or enrolling in a course. In the design stages, it is better to err on the side of more detail than you need, but avoiding needless minutia.
- Who else is involved in your customers’ journey? Pre and post-sales engagement can often be undertaken by others. For example a hospital service may start with the GP, likewise, a financial service experience may start or end with an external financial planner whose actions ultimately affect the success of your business.
What are the benefits of mapping customer engagement?
While there are many ways to visualise your customer engagement, creating a service engagement map has a number of clear benefits for your business.
- Provides a clear description of when, how and why the business engages with its customers.
- Provides a communication tool that crosses business functions, and silos, to show how different teams support each other in creating the customer experience.
- Highlights gaps and opportunities for business improvement
- Turns customer engagement from a tactical tool often done in functional silos to a strategic companywide framework that can incorporate tactical activities
Next Steps: Creating and Implementing Customer Journey Mapping Approach
Creating effective customer engagement requires a detailed understanding the customer, your business systems and your objectives. With knowledge of the scope, level of detail, and what other stakeholder contribute to customer experience, you need to gather consumer insights into the customer journey using a variety of approaches like cognitive interviewing and the critical incident technique that give actionable insights and where improvements can be made. If your market has different segments, you may need to create personas that capture the differences in their journey and engagement channels of preference. This is followed-up with internal workshops and interviews with service delivery and support staff to first map the existing system as it currently happens, and then to develop alternative models for development, testing and implementation.
Any organisation that engages with customers can benefit from taking a strategic approach to developing their service model through understanding their customers’ journey and mapping their customer engagement. Having mapped the customer engagement process your business is in a strong position to significantly improve its offer. Through the customer engagement mapping process, you create a win-win situation, where you improve the value to your customers and create a sustainable competitive advantage that can deliver growth for your business.
For those who like to dig deeper. . .
- MJ Bitner, AL Ostrom, FN Morgan (2007) “Service Blueprinting: A Practical Technique for Service Innovation” Working Paper, Centre for Service Leadership, University of Arizona
- Shostack, G. Lynne. (1984) “Designing Services that Deliver”, Harvard Business Review, vol. 62, no. January – February, pp. 133–139. The original article that led to a revolution in service design.