The 6 Steps of Customer Journey Mapping with Annette Franz

The 6 Steps of Customer Journey Mapping with Annette Franz TW

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In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Annette Franz, CEO of CX Journey Inc. joins Gabe Larsen to continue exploring customer journey mapping and how to do it effectively. With over 25 years of experience, Annette started her career at JD Power and Associates and then moved to found her company, CX Journey Inc, about 4 years ago. She has witnessed the evolution of customer experience and is very authoritative on the subject. Along with her business, she is Chairwoman of the CXPA Board of Directors and an official member of the Forbes Coaches Council. She also published a book in 2019 titled, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business). For valuable customer journey mapping secrets you don’t want to miss, listen to the full episode below.

Customer journey mapping is a way of capturing the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the customer. As an essential process in any business, Annette describes 6 key steps to creating journey maps. Prior to sharing these steps, Annette mentions an important creative principle. She states, “You’ve got to have the right people in the room and the right people are your customers. And the map has to be created from the customer’s perspective.” Having the right team of people in the room when going through the experience of the customer will be an essential element in creating a functional journey map.

The 6 “must-have” steps that Annette mentions are number one, planning personas, goals, outcomes, etc. Step two is doing the “actual mapping workshop.” Three, identifying — but in two different parts. First, the map has to be translated into a digital format and then “identify the moments of truth, those make or break moments. … Do some root cause analysis, really dig deep and dig into what is at the heart of the matter.” This can be done by assigning people, or owners, to different steps of the journey. Step four involves getting stakeholders and owners in the same room to start working together to fix the problems that they find. Step five is then finalizing the plan and finalizing the methods that will be used to fix the problems. The sixth step is implementation.

What Data to Use When Crafting a Customer Journey Map

Since the journey mapping process can get complicated, Annette discusses the data that companies should use to help simplify and focus their efforts. Traditional “voice of the customer” feedback is the top data to pay attention to, but Annette mentions other data that will make a big difference as well. She states:

You can bring in things like call volume and whole time and time to resolve and the number of transfers and the channels used and those kinds of things to really make the analysis much more robust. … I like to bring in costs to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact on the customer, impact on the business, those kinds of things that we can use later on as we’re trying to prioritize what we’re going to do first.

Diversifying the type of data used in the analysis will help ensure a quality customer journey map.

When to Reevaluate the Journey

Because people are subject to change and journey mapping revolves wholly around a person’s experience, it is a very fluid process. So, creating these maps and using them effectively in a business is a continual process with a constant need for evaluation. At the end of her discussion with Gabe, Annette answers the important question of when a customer journey map needs to be updated. She recalls:

Anytime that you’ve got product changes, anytime you’re making an acquisition and you’ve got new customer types coming on board … or there’s something that changes the way we do business and changes the way that our customers will ultimately interact with us. … But the first thing that’s going to tell you that you really need to revisit that map is your customers are going to tell you.

Customers will be the first people to raise a red flag and let you know that the journey map needs to be updated. Listening to their voice, above all, is the ultimate “must-have” when journey mapping.

To learn more about journey mapping strategies and tactics, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.


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Full Episode Transcript:

The 6 Steps of Customer Journey Mapping with Annette Franz

Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alright, welcome everybody. We’re excited to get going today. We’re going to be talking about this idea of journey mapping and some of the best practices in the space; the why, the what and the how and to do that we have Annette Franz. Multitalented, multi experienced, right now she is the founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc. She is also an author and sits on the chair, a board chair on the CXPA, which if I’m not mistaken, you’ve got a fun event coming up. Is that right Annette?

Annette Franz: (00:42)
That is correct. First of all, thank you so much for having me. And yes, we have our annual — this year is our first global insight exchange happening April 27th through the 29th in Orlando, Florida. Yeah.

Gabe Larsen: (00:54)
Awesome. We’ll make sure we get that out and about, but yeah, thanks for taking the time. I tried to do a little bit of an intro, but anything you’d fill in or a little more about your background and what you do over there at CX Journey.

Annette Franz: (01:07)
Oh gosh. Here’s a funny little tidbit that I like to share because I started in this customer experience space back in the early nineties at JD Power and Associates, and it’s really been fun or interesting or whatever word you want to use for it, to watch how this thing called “customer experience” has, first of all, how it’s come about and how has it evolved over time. Because back in the early nineties, we didn’t even call it customer experience. We talked about satisfaction and loyalty. So yeah, it’s been a fun ride and I’m really enjoying it. This is almost jumping into my fourth year out of my own under CX Journey, Inc. And yeah, working on some fun client projects and client engagements and really enjoying the things that I’m doing right now.

Gabe Larsen: (01:53)
Got it. And then just for my understanding as well, are there certain areas that you specialize in or that are more core to what you like to talk about or who you are, projects, et cetera.

Annette Franz: (02:04)
Most of my engagements, either coaching brand new chief customer officers or folks who are new in that type of position, head of CX, and really working on soup to nuts CX strategy, really talking about what needed to be done and how to get there. Right? So, but, a lot of people know me for — and I know we’re going to be talking a little bit about this today — a lot of people know me for my expertise in journey mapping, but that’s not all I do. Most of my work actually is sort of soup to nuts CX strategy.

Gabe Larsen: (02:36)
Okay. Oh, that’s interesting. Well, we might have to have you back on to talk big picture strategy and some of the things you do there.

Annette Franz: (02:42)
Awesome, I’d love to.

Gabe Larsen: (02:42)
Well, let’s start with the big picture. We were talking, pre-show, just a little bit about journey mapping. Sounds like there are some right ways to do it and some wrong ways to do it, but high level. What is it and why is it important?

Annette Franz: (02:55)
Yeah, that’s actually a great place to start because I think a lot of people confuse it and I’ll share a little story about how I know this happens other than what I read or what I see when I’m seeing the work that some folks are doing. But journey mapping is really a way for us to walk in our customer’s shoes to experience the experience that they’re having as they’re trying to interact or transact with the organization. And it’s really, it’s a step by step, I would say from point A to point B; from the moment that there was that need to do something, for example, calling customer service or making a purchase. Or, what were the steps that the customer took to get from that thought, from that need to when it actually transpired.

Annette Franz: (03:41)
And so when we do journey maps, what we capture is what the customer’s doing, thinking, and feeling. And that’s just so important to ultimately [inaudible] the understanding and then ultimately to be able to fix what’s broken. And it’s really important because of that, right? Because it is — we want everything to, we want to understand our customers and we want everything that we do — in terms of the business and how we design our products and our services and our processes and everything — to be with the customer in mind. And if we don’t take the time to understand what the experience is today and designing a better experience for tomorrow is going to be just as bad because we’re not taking the customer into account.

Gabe Larsen: (04:22)
I love it. I love it. So, that’s a big picture of what it is, some of the things that revolve around it. As you think about customer journey maps, and I’m playing the new card here a little bit, but is this something that every organization should do? Is it a must? Is everybody doing it? How predominant is this in the market?

Annette Franz: (04:45)
So, two part question, right? Is everybody doing it and how is it, why is it important or how is it important to the organization? So a lot of people are doing it or think they’re doing it, but, and I just alluded to this as I answered the previous question, but they’re really not. They are either creating lifecycle maps, which is really the stages of the need awareness, consideration, selection, et cetera, et cetera. And thinking that that’s going to get them to some kind of understanding of the customer experience when it really isn’t. Or, they’re doing touchpoint maps, which are taking those lifecycle stages and then inventorying the touchpoints. But that’s not detailed enough for us either. We need more details so we can understand the experience. Or, they’re all sitting around in a room and creating what we call an assumptive map. And it’s sitting around the room saying, Hey, we think this is what the experience is like. And then they create maps from that. And ultimately it often devolves into a process map and it’s all internal anyways so.

Gabe Larsen: (05:49)
Yeah. Do you, I mean, out of some of those, those seem like obviously maybe not best practice. What is the big challenge that is hindering people from making it effective? Is it the idea that we, I love that word, like an assumptive map that they don’t get detailed enough? They don’t involve people or is it they’re using the wrong tools or; what’s kind of the big barrier that you’re like, Oh man, if people could do this, they’d be so much further along?

Annette Franz: (06:13)
Yeah. That’s a great question. And I think it’s two fold, right? Number one is yes, you’ve got to have the right people in the room and the right people are your customers. And the map has to be created from the customer’s perspective. Right? So, those two things are really key, really critical. The other part of it is, once you’ve done that, you’ve also got to bring in — you’ve got tons of voice of the customer data. You’ve got tons of other data, operational data that you can bring into the maps as well to really; A, go from sort of a qualitative to a quantitative, but then also to really, boost up the power of the maps themselves, by using all of that data to identify the moments of truth. And moments of truth are those make or break moments where a customer says I’m going to move forward with this, or I’m not. And so customers in the room, mapping from the customer perspective and bringing that either voice the customer data or operational data into the map to really enhance the customer viewpoint.

Gabe Larsen: (07:15)
That resonates a lot with me. On the data perspective though, I guess I would probably have a follow up. Bringing the customer, that assumption, you get some people in the room you’re throwing sticky notes up and my guess versus your guess, but actually walking through the shoes of your customer, seeing the customer actually walk you through it. I can see how that adds a lot of value. When you say like operational data, voice of the customer data, okay, I kind of see, but what other data sources are important to bring in to really supplement that map so it does get more media.

Annette Franz: (07:46)
Yeah. That’s a great question. There are a lot of other different kinds of data that you can bring in. So you can bring in not just the voice of the customer feedback in all of its formats, right? So, there’s emotional data, there’s the metrics, the NPS or C-SAT or whatever your metric is. You can bring in other types of data as well. And by that, I mean, things like, let’s go back to the example that I gave with somebody calling customer service, you can bring in things like call volume and whole time and time to resolve and the number of transfers and the channels used and those kinds of things to really make the analysis much more robust. And I also say that you’ve got to bring in what I call, I call it business data for lack of a better thing. But I like to bring in cost to fix, time to fix, effort to fix, impact on the customer, impact on the business, those kinds of things that we can use later on as we’re trying to prioritize what we’re going to do first. Right? So any kind of data like that, that helps us, again, analyze and bring the maps to life.

Gabe Larsen: (08:57)
Yeah. It just makes it more meaty. That’s helpful. I appreciate that. Do you — I am having a hard time how you actually bring it together. Is it, and maybe that’s a technology question or, I’ve gathered this info, I’ve got great interviews, I’ve done stakeholder interviews, I’ve got notes on that. I’ve done maybe some post it notes, maybe you like, or don’t like the post it notes, but I’ve often seen people kind of do the personal example. How does it translate into something real? I mean, are people using PowerPoint? Is it a technology thing? How does it get to a place where you’re like, here is my journey map?

Annette Franz: (09:38)
I love that sound effect because that’s what I use for journey maps too. Oh, it’s just such a aha moment most of the time. But it’s a great question. So yes, most people often start with the butcher paper and the post it notes, and I love to start that way because it is a creative process. And when we have customers in the room, it gets them up and out of their chairs and thinking and talking and Hey, what’s next. And you know, all that. But once you’re done with that, you then need to take it and transfer it into a digital platform so that you can bring that data along. Right? And there are several journey mapping platforms out there that are specifically made for that very purpose. Right? The purpose built to take your dream outs from the analog to the digital. The one thing that I would say is; it’s less about creating that pretty picture and making it look good and stuff. And it’s more about, really is more about A, putting it together, butchering paper and posting notes and then B, being able to bring that data into it. And like I said, you would do that through a digital platform.

Gabe Larsen: (10:48)
I see. I see. And then once the map is created, but before I go there, I do want to get to that in a minute, but other best practices or tips or tricks in that execution or creation part of it? I love bringing in some of the different sources, even the creative, make sure you manage the creative process with maybe some of those types of things, like butcher paper, post it notes. Other best practices you’ve found and kind of getting the ideas out and down and that execution part?

Annette Franz: (11:19)
Yeah. Well, there’s a lot of best practices around creating the maps and then around doing it right. So that once you do have the map created that it is something that you can execute on, right? So there’s a couple of different things, but I wanted to just mention that when I do journey mapping, I have a process to it, right? I look at journey mapping as both a tool, the map itself, and then the process. And the process involves three key things that you have to do in order to get to the sixth step. The sixth step is implementation. But there are three key maps that you have to create. The first one is your journey map. That’s your current state map. The second one is a service blueprint. That service blueprint is an inside look, what’s happening behind the scenes, people, tools, system, processes, policies, all of that, that supports and facilitates the experience that the customer just had and then creates a future state map as well. Because the future state map is where you then design the new experience that you’re now going to go and in step number six, implement. Right? So, those are key components because we can’t fix what’s happening on the outside if we don’t fix what’s happening on the inside. And I think that’s a step that a lot of companies miss is that they try to just identify things in the current state map and go and fix them, but they don’t get at the root of the problem, which is something happening internally.

Gabe Larsen: (12:49)
Got it, got it. And then that — so I liked the idea of the future state. It seems like we would get caught up at times. You just get a current state, you fix some problems. You’re like, I’m done with this. You don’t actually get to that [inaudible] state. So that’s fascinating. The other points you kind of mentioned there, the internal policy thing. Can you double click there? And I don’t know if I quite got that. So you’re saying, how do you bring the internal policies there?

Annette Franz: (13:20)
So, when you create the service blueprint, you basically take — Oh yeah, it’s coming from the service blueprint. In that service blueprint, you’re going to identify the tools and the systems, the people, the processes, and the policies. So if the policies are broken and an employee is trying to do something for a customer and they can’t because the policy is bad or outdated or broken or whatever, we’ll be able to identify that in the service blueprint, because the customer has now identified a pain point in the journey map and the corresponding service blueprint for that journey. We’ll dig deep. We’ll go, well, why is that part broken there? And services, customer service is a great example, you know, right? Because you call customer service and the agent is following a script, and that’s not always the best solution, right? To follow the script. Sometimes it’s better to think about the human on the other end of the phone and do the right thing based on that particular scenario. And so what we can do with those service blueprints is make that connection and say, Oh, okay, something broke here and let’s see why. And so we’ll dig in and go, well, is it a policy? Is this a process with a person who wasn’t trained or whatever it was.

Gabe Larsen: (14:32)
Yeah, no, I love that. That makes more sense. Okay. And then once that map’s created, it seems like oftentimes you go through all this work to gather, you finally visualize it in some digital or analog format. It seems like — I could see how companies may get stuck there or maybe there is a conversation or one session about it, but then it kind of dies. Like it’s not a living [inaudible] document. Walk us through how you would say would be optimal. Like it’s created, okay. Now that it’s created, now what? What do we do to make this work better?

Annette Franz: (15:10)
Yep, exactly. So, I mentioned the six step process, right? So the third step in the process is what I call identify and identify is all about taking what you just learned in that journey map. So, step one is all the planning, the personas you’re gonna map for what the journey is, the objectives and the scope and the goals and the outcomes and all of those things. Step number two is the actual during mapping workshop, step number three, once you’ve completed that map, the next thing you’re going to do is identify and identify is, what happens in that step is that’s where you convert the map to a digital format. You bring the data in, and all of that. This is where you’re going to identify the moments of truth, those make or break moments.

Annette Franz: (15:56)
And you’re going to also identify what’s happening there. Do some root cause analysis, really dig deep and dig into what is at the heart of the matter. What’s at the heart of the matter, right? And then in this phase, you’re also going to — one of the things that I like to do when I journey map is assign owners to each step of the customer’s journey. And in this third step, as we go through that, we take those owners. This is, I call them the throat to choke, right. That’s why they’re there. And that one throat to choke — if that’s a pain point for our customers, who do we go to, who owns that step in the customer journey and needs to really do the work and identify what’s causing that step in the journey to break. And so we go through root cause analysis workshops.

Annette Franz: (16:43)
We go through other workshops where we start to do some action planning and put together, okay, we found the problem. We know what the problem is, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s our project plan for doing it, here’s who owns it. So it’s a — and you have to handhold folks through this, right? And that’s the fun or not so fun part of it. You have to handhold folks through this and then get it done that way. But yeah, there’s a whole next step after the mapping that you’ve got to get the stakeholders in the room and the owners of those steps in the room and start to dig in and then create your plan for how you’re going to fix it.

Gabe Larsen: (17:18)
And that makes sense, right? I mean, you kind of get the — I like the action planning, kind of the strategic sessions and holding people accountable. I mean, that’s kinda your project. From that point it’s probably more project management, so to say, 101. But even that last piece then, so you — and maybe I’m getting kind of to the end here, but you get, you’ve done that action planning session, you’re holding people accountable, you’re getting it through. Is it wise then to revisit that map once a year and go through another exercise? How do you make it so that it — and maybe you don’t. Maybe, well, that can’t be right actually. You probably don’t want to just [inaudible] exercise right?

Annette Franz: (17:56)
It’s a good question. And you’re right. It might be —

Gabe Larsen: (18:02)
Debating myself in my head.

Annette Franz: (18:08)
It’s okay. It’s okay. This is the Gabe podcast. He’s interviewing himself right now folks.

Gabe Larsen: (18:15)
Sorry for that.

Annette Franz: (18:15)
No, you’re fine. No, you’re fine. No, but it is a good question. It really is. And the question is really more around how often do you have to refresh those maps, right? And when should you go back and revisit them? And it’s a fair question. And it’s hard to actually put a timestamp on them because, for a couple of reasons. Number one, how quickly can you go through that process? How quickly can you service blueprint the future state design, because you’ve got to design the future state, and then go and implement that future state.

Annette Franz: (18:52)
So, once that new experience is implemented, now you’ve got to train your employees and you’ve got to let your customers know and set expectations on what the new experience is going to be, et cetera, et cetera. But any time that you get feedback from customers going forward after that, anytime you get feedback from customers that something’s not right, or you’re starting to see sort of these — you’re tracking the experience, right? So anytime you start to see where there’s leakage points, where people are falling out of the experience, they’re abandoning their shopping carts, whatever it is. Anytime that you’ve got product changes, anytime you’re making an acquisition and you’ve got new customer types coming on board, or there’s a lot of things that happen in businesses every day that are an evolution or they’re a change, or there’s something that changes the way we do business and changes the way that our customers will ultimately interact with us. So we need to consider all of those and take a look at those. But the first thing that’s going to tell you that you really need to revisit that map is your customers are going to tell you, Hey, this is not working. I’m not happy. And this could come in many different forms.

Gabe Larsen: (20:04)
I like that. Right? The qualitative or quantitative feedback, I’m starting to see that something’s broken basically. So maybe [inaudible]. That’s probably the best answer. That’s fine. I’ve often wondered, how do you make this more alive? And should you put it on a quarterly, put it in a quarterly review or QBR or whatever you want to call that. But you’re right. You’ll, if you’re honest, you’ll watch kind of the end outcome, which is ultimately your customer feedback in some form or fashion. If that starts to dip or there’s a problem, then obviously maybe something in the background is broken. I love it. Good. That’s helpful. Yeah. Am I an expert? What am I missing? What am I not asking? That’s what I should’ve asked.

Annette Franz: (20:46)
We hit the tip of the iceberg there, but yeah, you did good. We can dive in — again, as we talked about before we started recording, I wrote a book on journey mapping and how to do it. And so there’s that, there’s a lot to it. But no, I think we’ve hit — we’ve touched on a lot of points and any of those points, we could dive into much deeper, but that’s probably for another day.

Gabe Larsen: (21:16)
I got the cliff note version. Okay. I should have — I’m a cliff note.

Annette Franz: (21:21)
Yes that’s a good way to put it.

Gabe Larsen: (21:21)
Awesome. Well, I really appreciate taking the time. I love the talk track mostly because it feels — the best thing about journey mapping, and sometimes I feel like in this service experience space we talk about delighting and you get into those examples of the, you know the tire is being brought back to Nordstrom or stuff that’s sometimes a little harder. It doesn’t feel as tangible. The thing I love about journey mapping, it just feels so real. You’re action planning about real problems and moments of truth. And it’s like, ah, this is tangible. I can do something with it. It’s not “make people happy.” So, thank you for the talk track. I like that it’s practical. I like that it’s tactical. If someone wants to learn a little more about you dive into this, the book, where would you kind of direct them to, to take that next step?

Annette Franz: (22:05)
Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that. Of course. The best place to find all things about me and information about the book and everything would be my website, which is So thank you for that. I appreciate it.

Gabe Larsen: (22:18)
Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ll make sure we get that in the notes here so that people can find it and see it. Again, appreciate the time, like the talk track. For the audience, hope you have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (22:38)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.


How to Do Research-Based Customer Journey Mapping with Bob Thompson from CustomerThink

How to Do Research-Based Customer Journey Mapping with Bob Thompson from CustomerThink TW

Listen and subscribe to our podcast:

In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Gabe Larsen is joined by Bob Thompson from CustomerThink to discuss his recent research on customer experience. Bob is the CEO and founder of CustomerThink and has published a book titled, Hooked on Customers. His career and company are built upon the idea of customer centricity and other customer service management principles. His company has over 60,000 pieces of published content on customer service. In addition to writing authoritative content, Bob conducts primary customer service research. In the newest episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Bob reveals the findings of his most recent study. Listen to the full episode below.

How Journey Mapping Exemplifies Customer Centricity

Journey mapping is a CX principle that used to be unique, but has become a necessary and common practice for all companies. Although most companies practice journey mapping, Bob Thompson reports that only about a third are doing it successfully. Essentially, journey mapping is the process of going through the thoughts of the customer so that they can have a tailored experience. Bob provides a visual representation of this by stating, “think of journey mapping as walking in your customer’s shoes and then take pictures as you go and read their mind.” An effective journey map is one of the best ways to focus on the customer and ensure that your business is putting the needs, thoughts, and feelings of the customer first.

Key Principles to Customer Journey Mapping

Because effective journey mapping can help differentiate between mediocre customer service and quality customer service, Bob suggests two principles to help companies build useful journey maps. First, building them around personas. He states, “different people experience a brand in different ways. And so one of the top factors we found… is to develop personas for each of the customers, with each of the key customer segments and then build journey maps around each of these personas.” Separating customers into personas to customize their experience is a smart way to maintain customer centricity.

The second principle of successful journey mapping is to be specific and create a full journey map. Rather than segmenting the process, laying out the entire map allows for an uninterrupted flow from beginning to end. This also helps customer service experts better understand the long term goals and expectations of the businesses/people they serve. Bob mentions, “So if it’s a business, what is it they’re trying to get done? I think this is absolutely critical. What are — in the end — they trying to accomplish with this experience?” Customers have their own long term goals so going through the entire journey of the customer helps them feel understood.

The “Future State” of Customer Service

As a final observation, Bob talks about the importance of the “future state” in the customer experience. Most of the time, CX experts focus on fixing the problem at hand instead of honing in on designing a future experience for customers. When trying to create this experience, customer service representatives tend to forget that the CX journey begins long before the customer calls customer service. When sales expectations aren’t met by a product or there is a problem with the product, people call customer service as if they were the problem. Bob explains this concept and the need for companies to create a future experience by stating: “So, CX is about figuring out where we’re screwing up, and let’s go fix that. And you know, that’s fine. Everybody has room for improvement. …We want to drive towards a planned or designed experience as opposed to fixing the mess that we already have.”

To learn more about customer experience strategies, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.


Listen Now:

Listen to “How to do Research-Based Customer Journey Mapping w/Bob Thompson @Customer Think” on Spreaker.

You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:

Full Episode Transcript:

How to Do Research-Based Customer Journey Mapping with Bob Thompson from CustomerThink

Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alright welcome everybody to today’s podcast. We’re going to be talking about journey mapping; how important it is, why you should do it, how you can be thinking about doing it. And to do that, we brought on the guests today Bob Thompson. He is the founder and CEO of CustomerThink. He also wrote a book called Hooked On Customers, but really an expert in the idea of customer centricity, bringing brands together, how they should manage their business more appropriately. So, excited to get into the talk track today. This is one that journey mapping has been asked a lot about. I think some of the research and the findings that Bob will bring will be very interesting. So Bob, thanks for joining. How are you?

Bob Thompson: (00:51)
I’m great. Thanks for having me, Gabe.

Gabe Larsen: (00:53)
Yeah, yeah. I always appreciate you taking the time. It’s fun to kind of do the podcast and meet a lot of leaders, thought leaders like yourself. So thank you for jumping on. Talk just a little bit about anything you’d add or get into your background, more about some of the things you’ve done or what CustomerThink does, just so the audience has that kind of pillar?

Bob Thompson: (01:11)
Yeah, absolutely. So CustomerThink is an online community. It’s free. People can visit or they can join and get our newsletter. We’ve been around for two decades and the core idea is customer centricity. How do we treat our customers better and create a better business as a result of doing that. So that’s the online community. I run that. We’ve published a lot of content, several thousand posts a year. We have, I think, close to 60,000 pieces of content. It’s been over 3000 authors. So it’s a big community covering customer experience, customer service. If it’s related to customers, we cover it. In addition to that, I also do research, I do primary research. And I usually do two or three studies a year and I’ll be sharing some of my findings from a study we did recently on over 200 customer experience initiatives. So, I do a lot of research and do some public speaking as well.

Gabe Larsen: (02:11)
I love it. I love it. Well, we’ll get into that. So let’s maybe start — appreciate the overview on your background. This was a topic that was asked about a lot from the audience, customer journey mapping or process flows. Big picture — maybe just for those that don’t know, tell us just a little bit about what it is and maybe why a company should be thinking about this.

Bob Thompson: (02:33)
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. It’s become kind of the go-to thing that if you’re doing a customer experience program, you’re probably doing two things. One, you’re collecting feedback. And number two, you’re doing a journey mapping project. Now it’s not a hundred percent, but it’s a very high percentage. Those are sort of the two activities that are associated with doing customer experience. Now there’s a lot more to it than that, but those are two that came up in our study. And so in terms of journey mapping, the idea is you’ve probably heard this expression walk in your customer’s shoes, right?

Gabe Larsen: (03:12)

Bob Thompson: (03:13)
And so when you think of journey mapping is walking in your customer’s shoes and then take pictures as you go and read their mind. So you’re trying to understand it and create a visual depiction of what your customer is literally experiencing, what they’re thinking, feeling, what sort of interactions they are having as they interact with your company. So it could be in marketing or using your product or service, customer service. So, ideally it should be everything and use that as a diagnostic tool.

Gabe Larsen: (03:45)
I love it. I love it. Do you feel like — how proficient or how extensive is this idea? I mean, having done some research does every organization do it? Is this a new idea for most people? What’s the penetration of this into organizations would you say? It’s pretty high. I’d say the penetration of doing it well is not that high. Maybe, maybe a third. I mean, but this is typical. Not every company starts out being an expert in anything. I know I didn’t. So, it’s not a knock, it’s just to say that if you look at new programs, they’re learning a lot of different things about how to collect feedback, how to do analytics, how to do journey mapping and to say, well, they’re, you know, they’re not doing very well because they’re not an expert at journey mapping. That’s not really fair. Having said that, I think that there is a lack of skill and completeness that we found in our study that the more successful CX initiatives did journey mapping more thoroughly and more effectively. I talk about what that means. We’re only talking about maybe one out of four that I would say are doing a pretty respectable job of it.

Gabe Larsen: (04:57)
I like that. So one out of four. So definitely room for improvement when it comes to this area. So let’s get into some of the findings. I mean big picture, any kind of big takeaways before you get into tactical of how to do it? Any surprises in the data that you saw?

Bob Thompson: (05:14)
I think one thing that surprised me is that I did a study I think three years ago and what we found — and this was very, this was specific to customer service by the way. What we found is that just doing a journey mapping project was a success indicator. In other words, it was one of the factors and more successful companies are able to increase customer satisfaction. Just doing it, not how well did you do it, but did you do one? It was a plus, right?

Gabe Larsen: (05:44)
Just going through the exercise. Yeah, I could see that. I can see that.

Bob Thompson: (05:50)
What changed is that’s no longer true. It was a differentiator maybe three years ago or so, but you know, attempting one– I mean there are definitely benefits to doing a journey mapping project. You bring people together, you understand your customer better and doing one versus not doing one when you’re at a relatively immature status is fine.

Gabe Larsen: (06:14)

Bob Thompson: (06:14)
But now, customer experience is not a new idea. There’s lots of programs out there that have been out two, three, four, 10 years and so we have a much better base to look at what is it about the actual process of journey mapping. And we didn’t find just doing one was a success indicator anymore. You have to do it more effectively. And we came up with a number of different elements of what makes an effective journey mapping project and we have data to back that up.

Gabe Larsen: (06:44)
I love it. I love it. Well let’s get into some of those cause I do think the big ask was, you’re right. People seem to know the concept. I think the effectiveness, how to make it impactful, how to do it the right way. Maybe walk us through some of those findings or recommendations on how people should be thinking about doing it again, well.

Bob Thompson: (07:02)
Well, what I’ll start by saying, if you — again, this concept of walking in your customer’s shoes, and the question that I think everyone should ask is which customer? Not some generic customer or what we think the customer is, but to actually have key customer segments or often called personas. So you can say, Hey, we’re going to create a journey mapping for our senior executive that’s making a technology purchase. Maybe it’s a different persona for somebody that’s a user using the product– maybe using customer service. Different people experience a brand in different ways. And so one of the top, factors we found, again, we have analytics behind this and a lot of experts to back this up, is to develop personas for each of the customers — with each of the key customer segments — and then build journey maps around each of these personas.

Gabe Larsen: (07:55)
Hmm. Hmm. And is that, when you think about personas — it’s really just about the types of customers that you obviously interact with. Do you go, how deep down in that persona do you go? Is it, try to keep it a little more high level or do you get very specific about industry, title, function, company size? What’s too granular versus too high?

Bob Thompson: (08:22)
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I mean, you can get lost in the weeds here. And you know, never get your head out after developing personas. But, I would say that they need to be developed at a fairly granular level. So you’d want, what job title are we talking about? What is the size of the company? So some of the standard demographics, there would be, what are their goals? So if it’s a business, what is it they’re trying to get done? I think this is absolutely critical. What are — in the end — they trying to accomplish with this experience because that turns out to be one of the five things that it came out as a differentiator is that being — understanding the outcomes and defining them in the journey map is really critical because it’s not just about how easy it was. It’s like, well, did it actually help accomplish their — what they had in mind?

Gabe Larsen: (09:17)
That makes a big difference. Do you, maybe just one clarification for me. As you identify those personas, how important is it to do, and maybe I’m jumping ahead, but how important is it to do kind of the whole journey or is it better to kind of bite size it and say, let’s just talk about the pre-buying experience or the post purchase experience. How do you think about the actual journey?

Bob Thompson: (09:43)
Yeah, that is an absolutely critical question and there isn’t one right answer. I’ll tell you that from our research, what we found is that more successful CX programs overall tended to do the end to end journey. But, everybody has to start somewhere and part of the challenge with CX is that it becomes a boiling the ocean problem. There are so many things you could do, where do you start? And so, it’s definitely feasible to start and say customer service. You know, you can get your feet wet and learn some things about what the service experience looks like because that has some complexity. But the danger of starting in any one part of the journey and staying there is that you lose sight of the handoffs. And so what happens when you go from marketing to sales to service? There’s a set of problems that have to do with the handoffs and the sales and then there were problems within a particular function and in the end they both need to be addressed.

Gabe Larsen: (10:54)
That’s right. That the hand offs, it’s like they’re, I mean, I don’t — I’m not the expert in journey mapping, just having run sales and marketing. The old sales and marketing debate, that is a problem. Whenever you have two people in a room, it’s always a little harder than having just one. So, you’re right. Anytime there’s a hand off, you have challenges and if you don’t manage that or think about it, you’re probably losing a little bit of that [inaudible].

Bob Thompson: (11:23)
I think for customer service managers, which I understand is our key audience here, I mean, let’s face it; they can be the dumping ground for problems that happen elsewhere in the company. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true, right? You know the product didn’t work, so they call customer service and they’re angry at customer service. Is it customer service’s fault that the product was bad or is it the customer service fault that sales made a promise —

Gabe Larsen: (11:48)
How could the sales promise [inaudible]. It’s always the salespeople who are causing problems but —

Bob Thompson: (11:57)
But, rather than blame, it’s not about blaming but say, but these problems tend to happen somewhere else. And so, if you start in customer service, which is a very common starting point for CX programs, then you want to expand and say, all right, so here’s a set of problems that, why is the customer calling because they’re confused. Where did that confusion start? Maybe it started in a marketing message or a sales promise or somewhere else. And work on those root cause problems rather than saying, well let’s hammer customer service and make sure they fix those problems. They can’t fix them all.

Gabe Larsen: (12:32)
You’re right, you’re right. You really need to probably look at that holistic. But you know, you’ve also got to start where you can and do what you can. So, okay, so one is persona. I like this conversation about chunking it or potentially looking at the whole journey. What else works; some of the findings or best practices as you look at this exercise?

Bob Thompson: (12:51)
Yeah, I’ll talk about a couple of others together because they’re related. What is the information or the data that you use to build a journey map? And it’s relatively easy, maybe not easy, but relatively easy to get a bunch of employees in a room and say, all right, what do we think the journey looks like? So you can get posted notes and start outlining the steps and what you think is going on. And, that’s not a bad way to start. It might help you find some of your colleagues elsewhere in the company, but, it’s not a good practice if you stop there. The best practice is to get customers directly involved in this problem. You have some key customers you bring in, maybe some of them representing these personas. It can help you do a reality check on what’s going on. And you can use data, which is the other thing, which is from customer feedback or maybe you have analytics which will just show you where some points of friction or problems and so on. And so when you build a journey map, it’s not just, here’s an internal view of what’s going on, but here’s a view informed by research, by feedback, by customers, and then you’ve got a solid foundation to build upon.

Gabe Larsen: (14:08)
I love that. I love that. Is that something that you feel like people get tripped up on that? I mean often times they do just rely on the internal resource. That’s kind of a challenge people often face.

Bob Thompson: (14:20)
It is, and it’s difficult to get customers involved but [inaudible] CX programs, figure out a way to do it, and they do it. And they use data that they already have. You don’t necessarily have to go out and do another research project, but if you say, look, we want to understand what’s happening in the buying experience, well, you have a website, you have analytics, you have some surveys that we get feedback and you can get some indication without doing flush research about where the problems are. So, make it a habit and you at least start with a better journey map.

Gabe Larsen: (15:00)
I love it. So, data, internal and external is going to give you more of a holistic view. Okay. That’s fair. Got it. Okay. What’s next?

Bob Thompson: (15:11)
Here’s one that I think is a more advanced process, but it definitely popped up as a differentiator. When I say differentiator, I mean that we saw a statistical difference, but the things I’m talking about here, we saw a statistically different level of effectiveness of CX programs that were successful and those that were not. And by successful I mean able to show some business value. So there’s some real data behind these recommendations, but the one that I think tends to get forgotten the most is looking to the future; and so often called a future state journey map. So, and I think this one I want to probably end on this one because I think it points to one of the biggest problems I see in the CX industry, which is it has what I call a find and fix paradigm.

Gabe Larsen: (16:10)

Bob Thompson: (16:11)
So, CX is about figuring out where we’re screwing up, and let’s go fix that. And you know, that’s fine. Everybody has room for improvement. Well, what leaders, CX leaders do as they’re thinking about how to innovate. How can we — we want to get so close to the customer, we understand what they’re trying to accomplish, how fast you want to accomplish and we’re going to create a future experience that’s dramatically different and better. These future state maps then become a planning tool so you can say, Hey, while we’re fixing what’s broken in customer service or the product or whatever it is, these things people are complaining about, can we get a real edge on our competitors? That’s the future state and we want to drive towards a planned or designed experience as opposed to fixing the mess that we already have.

Gabe Larsen: (17:08)
I love that. Yeah. It’s like the current state. It’s so easy because you find some of these problems and you quickly fix them and you’re feeling good, but you don’t actually take that time to say in a year or two years from now, what does optimal look like? What are we building towards? I can see tons of people stopping on the current state. That’s a — I’ve done that. I’ve done that. One tactical question for you, what do people normally, as you get building this, is it they sketch it on a piece of paper, they use it like a charting tool, like a lucid chart. Is there any recommendations that you’ve found that makes this a little easier to do when you’re actually trying to visualize it? You’ve got past maybe the post it notes and you’re trying to put pen to paper.

Bob Thompson: (17:55)
Well, I would say that the more advanced you get, the less likely you’re going to be using PowerPoint or some flowcharting tool. These journey maps can be quite big. I’ve seen some that literally you could put them up on the wall and when they are up on the wall, they’re 20 feet long and it can be daunting. So, there are some specialized tools out there. I am not an expert on all those tools and I have not found any one sort of —

Gabe Larsen: (18:25)
I wondered if there was a magical one out there.

Bob Thompson: (18:27)
I think post-its, you can’t get simpler than that and it is an excellent way of getting started. But I want to stop short of trying to give a recommendation on what to do from there.

Gabe Larsen: (18:41)
You’re right, I appreciate the honesty because I’ve wondered if there is one tool that rules them all, but it sounds like you’ve got to kind of find where you are. There’s some simple, maybe some more complex and find what works and make it happen. I think the exercise is probably more important than tools. So that’s going to hear. Okay. Well Bob, really appreciate the time. Very interesting findings on customer journey mapping, mapping the whole experience end to end. If someone wants to learn a little bit more about CustomerThink or dive even deeper into this topic, is there a quick summary or recommendations you’d point them to?

Bob Thompson: (19:17)
Yeah, I mean if you come to one of our topic areas is the customer journey. Okay. So you can come into — there’s a big tab on the top named customer experience and there’s one on customer journey map below that. If somebody comes and clicks on that they’re going to get dozens of excellent articles and blog posts from many of the leading experts in the industry as well as myself on this topic. So, that’s a really good option. And then you can go into Google and you asked about techniques for actually presenting a journey map, and the reason I say I don’t know what to recommend is that I’ve seen lots of different ways of doing it that all work. So do the search on Google under customer journey map and then click on images and you will get probably a hundred different ways of doing it. Also, I think there are some experts in the industry, many of the CX professionals get into the details of actually doing those through some vendors that provide tools. There’s a lot of resources out there to help people. And I honestly, I think most companies would be advised to get some help because this is such a key diagnostic and planning tool, but you don’t want to screw it up. Do it right. It’s going to help you make better decisions on how to make customer experience better.

Gabe Larsen: (20:40)
I think that’s great. Yeah. Sometimes you do, you think you can knock this out, but it does take a real expertise there are people out there who can help. So Bob, again, really appreciate you taking the time. I know you’re a busy person. You know many things going on at CustomerThink, so can’t thank you enough for the advice and some of the recommendations as well as takeaways for customer journey mappings. So thanks again for joining for the audience. Hope you have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (21:13)
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Kustomer + Jeannie Walters: How to Create an Omnichannel Journey

On the latest Conversations with Kustomer Podcast, we discuss creating an emotionally impactful omnichannel customer journey in an increasingly fragmented service and support landscape.

We sat down with Jeannie Walters to learn the ins and outs of building a memorable customer journey. Jeannie is the CEO and Chief Customer Experience Investigator of 360Connext. 360Connext specializes in qualitative, human evaluations of the real customer experience through a process called Customer Experience Investigation (CXI). Jeannie is also a Co-Host on the Crack the Customer Code Podcast.

Emotion colors every experience we have—whether we realize it or not. Is there a place you shop just because the people who work there are really nice? Or because you’ve had a positive experience in the past with the brand? Maybe there’s a coffee shop or a bookstore where you end up spending way more than you set out to just because of their warm, friendly experience.

How can customer service and support teams spread that positive feeling when customers are contacting them over the phone, over email, over chat, and across all of these channels and more? It definitely isn’t easy, but it is very possible.

Listen to hear our answers to these questions:

  • What is the process of mapping the customer journey?
  • How do you retain your customers’ trust?
  • How can customer experience professionals use empathy while designing the customer experience?
  • When should you rely on data to design your journey, and when should the process be more intuitive?
  • How can you deliver a personalized experience for each customer?
  • How can customer support organizations improve the experience more proactively?
  • How is this process of mapping the customer journey different for B2B versus B2C brands?

For the latest from Kustomer, follow us at @Kustomer on Twitter.

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