Customer Journey Mapping: helping you find the path to customer centricity?

What is a customer-centric organisation? How – and why – should you become one? And how difficult is the process?

The idea has been around for more than 50 years, and Google offers more than a million results if you’re searching for a definition (which varies, but “Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale,” is as good as any).

Despite all the talk of customer centricity, researchers continue to discover that organisations are struggling with turning concept into reality. A major piece of work came to this conclusion in 2006*, a conclusion repeated just last year by Tomas Hult (and blogged by me here in January).

So why is it so difficult to become a truly customer-centric organisation, and what tools are available to help us get there?

Read on to learn more about a relatively new tool in the social housing sector – Customer Journey Mapping – which helps us perceive service as our clients would see it.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

One voice in this field has been Adam Richardson, a consultant in innovation, user experience strategy, customer insights and journey mapping. Writing in the Harvard Business Review in 2010, he gave this definition:

A customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customers go through engaging with your company, whether it be a project, and online experience, retail experience or service or any combination. The more touch points you have, the more complicated – but necessary – such a map becomes.

The technique can change organisational cultures by getting a customer-led view of service interactions, experiences, and priorities. It’s the detailed ‘outside-in’ view, so often missing from more usual engagement initiatives, that makes it unique.

There are many different approaches to Customer Journey Mapping, drawing on different management disciplines, but Richardson suggests the journey can be split into the following stages:

  • Activities: What the customer is doing at each stage of the journey to move themselves to the next stage
  • Motivations: Why they are doing this and what are they feeling about it
  • Questions: What the key issues are at each stage
  • Barriers: What structural, implementational or other barriers stand in the customers’ ways?

Details are captured at each stage to provide a visual ‘map’ of the service noting all the touchpoints (interactions) the customer has with the organisation. As you might expect, software is now available to support this work.

Advantages and disadvantages of Customer Journey Mapping

Benefits can include identifying improvements in process, time, and cost efficiencies. These can subsequently improve service quality and customer satisfaction, and embed a customer perspective into the organisational culture.

A wealth of insight can be gained through Customer Journey Mapping, but it is a slower, more reflective process of feedback than many others, which tends to focus on one service (or one area) at a time. However, it is this very process of reflexivity which is so beneficial and underpins the richness of the technique.

Is Acuity Research & Practice offering Customer Journey Mapping?

We will be very soon! We’re planning half-day training for staff, and Customer Journey Mapping exercises in your organisation, which will be open for booking later in the summer.

If you would like to chat through your needs to find the best solution for you, please contact us.

Remember – Customer Journey Mapping is the means, not the end

It’s worth remembering that as with other techniques of understanding the voice of the customer (such as customer satisfaction surveys), Customer Journey Mapping is a way of finding new knowledge and understanding about your customers. But to truly improve your services, insight must lead to action, applied through organisational learning and change.

In my view, Customer Journey Mapping is a fantastic tool for helping organisations find their path to customer centricity – influencing decision-making culture, and gaps for improvement – all for the benefit of customers.

*If you want to know more about the article mentioned earlier, it is called “The path to customer centricity” by Shah et al (2006), published in the Journal of Service Research, Volume 9, Issue 2, Pages 113-124. A PDF is available from the author by clicking here.

About Simon Williams

Simon Williams (FCIH, MMRS), Associate, Acuity Research & Practice. Acuity is a leading UK research agency providing resident satisfaction, performance benchmarking, learning & development, and consultancy for the social housing sector.

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