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Why the Best Customer Experiences Start with a Strong Current State Journey Map

When it comes to customer journey mapping, many organizations begin with a goal in mind. Maybe leadership wants to reimagine their service or product delivery strategy to maximize a new feature or stand up a new offer. Perhaps they have identified a particular pain point in the existing customer journey, and they need to find a way to eliminate user friction from the experience.

Whatever the motivation for the exercise may be, customer journey maps can help create a framework for more successful customer interactions. However, customer journey maps can also mask deeper customer experience issues or result in partial fixes if they aren’t used the right way.

6%

of CX leaders are confident that their CX measurement processes enable both strategic and tactical decision making, according to McKinsey.

At Avtex, we encounter well-intentioned organizations frequently using journey mapping without accounting for the totality of the experience. Most commonly, this means falling prey to an outside-in journey mapping mentality. That is, an organization creates a journey map vision for the ideal future state experience without first taking a hard look at internal processes and existing interactions as they stand today.

Most organizations are able to see the pain points their customers might be experiencing in the context of a single channel—such as online or in the contact center—but it can be much more difficult to follow these pain points across channels and throughout the full customer journey.

For this reason, every journey mapping process should consist of two distinct phases: (1) the current state journey map, and (2) the future state journey map. By prioritizing the current state of the experience first, organizations give themselves an opportunity to fully understand what customers want from an experience before they map out their vision for deploying it.

Sometimes clients approach us with future state journey and process maps, and they want to start executing on those plans right away. But after we deploy Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Voice of the Employee (VoE) tactics to begin to measure the success of the future state strategy, we usually start to see the issues this outside-in mentality can create. As customer and employee feedback starts rolling in, this new input can sometimes be surprising—leading to pauses in technology implementation and creating costly rework to design a truly customer-centric experience. Starting with current state journey mapping can help identify these hidden challenges much earlier in the process—resulting in more efficient, more cost-effective implementations.
Kate Kompelien on the cost of "outside-in" thinking

The Current State Journey Mapping Process

A current state journey map is designed to create a visual representation of the experience a particular persona has when they engage with your brand. At Avtex, we recommend a three-step approach to pull out the relevant personas and experiences to explore with current state journey mapping exercises, including:

Select the right personas

Often, clients want to explore all their personas. While this is possible, it isn’t usually the best option. In addition to the high cost associated with mapping out every persona, many personas share overlapping experiences. For example, two different personas may reach out to your contact center with the same needs, explore the same website for the same answers, and visit the same store with the same layout. Instead of duplicating efforts across personas, start with a few that are distinct enough from each other that it becomes possible to tease out their channel preferences along with the unique touchpoints that are troublesome for this particular group of users. To help our clients navigate this tricky selection process, we set up an initial journey workshop with this specific goal in mind. During this session, we discuss potential personas and outline the journey each group experiences.

Identify critical pain points

Even though an organization may come into the initial journey workshop with a rough idea of their pain points, there are a variety of different listening tools that can help provide valuable context. We regularly leverage a combination of social listening exercises—including survey data, social media listening, behavioral research, and deep-dive interviews with customers and frontline employees—to get to the heart of a particular pain point in the existing journey.

Build out a journey map that captures the nuance of the experience

At the most basic level, your current state journey map will include the steps a customer or employee is currently taking to complete the journey and the pain points across that journey. This can show you the “how,” but it doesn’t necessarily reveal the “why” behind it. The most useful current state journey maps, however, include additional streams of information that reveal what a customer was thinking, what they were feeling, and the amount of effort they had to exert to get from one step to the next. Together, these data points can help drive alignment around the nature of each pain point and help catalyze investment in the right strategies to solve it.

Pivoting from Current State Analysis to Future State Vision

Current state journey maps are great for developing an understanding of your customers and their pain points, but they aren’t designed to create a roadmap for action. That’s where the future state journey map comes in. See how this crucial step and others can inform a future state vision that eliminates user friction and supports long-term customer experience success.

Ready to take the first step toward a frictionless customer experience? We can help.

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