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Epic Fail of Customer Journey Marketing

AvatarRichard Boehmcke | July 18, 2019

Buzz about customer journey mapping (CJM) abounds. It’s everywhere. You’ve probably seen dozens of CJM articles and received CJM webinar invites this week. But is CJM living up to its hype?

That’s a good question. But let’s ask another that gets to the heart of the issue: Is your organization seeing bona fide, measurable benefits from your CJM activities?

If you said no, you’re not alone. According to former Gartner analyst and customer experience (CX) thought leader, Esteban Kolsky, just 2 percent of companies say they’ve been successful at CJM.

What’s wrong with this picture? Is CJM doomed?

Don’t worry, CJM isn’t going anywhere. Actually, we think CJM should be a top priority for any company undertaking a new or expanded CX initiative. The problem isn’t the CJM concept — it’s the execution. Some companies have made serious missteps with their CJM programs, but you can avoid their fate by knowing these three CJM trouble spots.

#1: Little Support From the C-Suite

It’s time to do away with a pervasive CJM myth. CJM is not a one-off workshop or a weekend retreat to discuss customers. It is a strategic, ongoing program that touches every corner of the business.

That means strong executive sponsorship is a must from day one. Most likely, you’ll need backing from more than one C-level champion. And you must be clear about the expected resource commitment upfront. You’ll need a budget, people, technology and leadership oversight.

Don’t just ask for funds for a single customer-focused event. Don’t say creating a journey map visual is your sole objective. Be honest about your program needs, and always keep your chief sponsors and stakeholders updated on your progress. Only then can you set yourself up for CJM success.

#2: A Short-Sided View of the End Goal

Often, CJM programs focus on a single deliverable: a beautiful journey map that hangs on a wall somewhere.

Yes, that visual can help illustrate customer expectations and rally your team, but it’s not enough to drive real change.

Ultimately, your CJM efforts should help you build a voice of the customer (VoC) program. You want to gather meaningful customer feedback across the journey and use it to transform your business, and you want to provide an emotional context for the data you collect. That’s true whether you use Net Promoter Score or any other CX metric.

When done correctly, CJM can help you clarify the key performance indicators (KPIs) that make CX meaningful to every part of your organization. Other teams will become willing participants and stakeholders in your CX efforts. And that can help you build a customer-centric culture.

#3: Limited Customer Perspective

In CJM, the customer feedback you need can’t be gained from a closed-ended survey. You need to hear from customers — in their own words and voices — across many audience segments. As Harvard Business Review explains:

[Customer journey mapping] is best done if grounded in customer research, preferably including in-depth ethnographic-style interviews and in-context observations. Surveys and focus groups tend to gloss over too many details that are critical to really understanding the experience.

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It can be.

But here’s a secret: wrangling the necessary logistics to secure in-depth customer research can feel like the easy part. Letting customers be unabashedly honest about their experiences is hard. Very hard. It can even feel painful.

But honesty is crucial to helping you understand experiences from the customer’s vantage point. It’s the only way to avoid succumbing to an inside-out view.

The bottom line is: you can’t cut corners when it comes to gathering customer insight. If you do, you won’t get meaningful results from your CJM efforts.

Customer Journey Mapping: From Epic Fail to CX Superpower

Done well, CJM can bring massive uplift to your company. How massive? Research firm Aberdeen Group found that companies with strong CJM programs enjoy many benefits over CJM laggards:

  • 200% more employee engagement
  • 350% more revenue from referrals
  • 54% greater return on marketing investment

CJM has the potential to accelerate your sales cycle and reduce service costs as well.

But gathering people in a room and drawing up a journey map won’t yield those results. Remember, CJM is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to secure executive buy-in and clarify your long-range goals. And you have to make sure you bring in authentic customer perspective. Those three elements are vital for CJM success.

Today, some organizations are getting CJM right. We’ve heard from companies that call CJM their CX superpower, and your business can be one of them. With a strategic approach, you can unlock the potential of CJM and gain a clear competitive advantage.

Avoiding the three pitfalls we’ve outlined is a step in the right direction. There are also proactive steps you can take to create a foundation for CX success. Be on the lookout for part two of this post to learn more.