Employ A Holistic Approach to Journey Mapping For a Better Customer Experience

by Ezra Schwartz

Customer journey mapping techniques are all the rage these days and separating hype from substance can be difficult. This is especially relevant when you want to establish a program of lasting impact, which naturally requires the cooperation of multiple stakeholders across the organization.

Over time, a successful customer relationship leads to the customer trusting the organization with the purchase of multiple products and services, and the number of customer-organization touchpoints increases. But as the number of touchpoints increases, managing the quality and consistency of the overall experience becomes a challenge.

This article will explain the reasons why employing a holistic approach to journey mapping can help you better understand and implement change in a complex customer experience.

Advantages of A Holistic Approach to Journey Mapping

At its core, a customer journey map is a tool for plotting the entire set of actionable touchpoints the customer experiences in the context of engaging with a product or a service. The word actionable is most important to keep in mind, since actions are measurable.

All too often, journey maps are created opportunistically­—driven by a need or change to a specific point of interaction with the customer. Since it takes place solely within the confines of a project for a particular division or product, the result is that different functions or business units within the organization develop journey maps that lack overall consistency or long-term sustainability.

Since multiple business units within the organization own products and services, a comprehensive perspective and governance of the entire customer engagement landscape is vital.

This approach is often referred to as a holistic paradigm, since it focuses on the functional relation between parts and the whole. It is essential for managing, within a single framework, the spectrum ranging from the global Customer Experience (CX) to a specific touchpoint in the User Experience (UX) of a particular application.

A Holistic Journey Mapping Technique Provides A Consistent, Tangible UX Framework

Most organizations have a fairly comprehensive set of policies and standards that govern every aspect of customer interaction. Some organizations develop customer experience standards that provide guidance and orientation around meeting and fulfilling customer expectations. Holistic journey mapping enables these standards to be tied to a tangible UX framework, which makes managing their application throughout the digital experience achievable and measurable.

By design or evolution, each organizational business unit is often an autonomous entity that operates according to the specifics of its markets and geography. The resulting variability in systems becomes an issue when organizations push towards synergies. This is when inconsistencies in business processes pose a challenge to a well-governed end-to-end customer experience in general, and to a unified, streamlined user experience in particular.

A Holistic Approach Can Be Used to Unify Management of the Overall Customer Experience

For example, one CX Director at a large bank was concerned about the effectiveness of customer journey mapping. This organization had many different divisions and needs, so it took a cross-divisional approach to map out a complex customer cycle containing various critical touchpoints the customer had with the company’s website.

The map below shows how four key stress points were emphasized during the major redesign of the organization’s customer-facing site. The Experience Architecture team uncovered significant gaps early in the process in the current-state end-to-end user experience between the products. These were gaps that positioned the project at a high risk for failure, regardless of the new user interface.

Journey mapping techniques

A journey map like this one can identify stress points in activities like a site redesign.

Through plotting the experience across phases of the journey and identifying sample stress-points, the team was able to convince business and development leadership in the importance of getting the divisions owning the products to collaborate and implement changes in business processes necessary to reduce the gaps.

Stress point 3 was especially important, showing that the Selling phase has the smallest gap between the products. Given the much bigger gaps in other phases, the logical, but in this case, incorrect implication, pointed to a conclusion that the organization is greedy and cares little about the customer. This implication was not lost on Leadership, which moved quickly to prevent damaging impact to its brand.

Employing a holistic approach helped surface several stress points in the experience that prevented the customer’s smooth transition from one division’s product to another. As a result, the team was able to smooth out missed touchpoints, and work through a couple of dead-ends. These insights helped the team re-prioritize development efforts and establish a basis for ongoing cross-divisional oversight of the overall customer experience.

Why is a Holistic Approach More Effective?

There are several reasons why a multi-dimensional approach for journey mapping techniques is effective:

  1. An easier way to plan: A holistic approach to journey mapping makes it easier to plan, manage and improve a consistently positive customer experience within and across your organization’s verticals. It helps you distinguish the forest from the trees, as it eliminates the risk of focusing on individual touchpoints while neglecting the arc of the relationship.
  1. Better communication and collaboration: The holistic methodology leads to better communication and collaboration within and across verticals. This will help your organization, as a whole, to achieve its tactical goals and strategic vision. The continuous process of creating, monitoring and evolving the inventory of journey maps creates a powerful organizational memory that leadership and stakeholders can easily communicate and monitor across an entire organization—regardless of size and complexity.
  1. A unifying UX theme: Journey maps provide a unifying UX theme focused on the continuous assessment and improvement of the customer experience. Therefore, holistic journey maps are an essential tool for identifying organization-wide risks and opportunities.
  1. Expose risks: Holistic journey mapping techniques can help expose risks by identifying:
    • Stress areas around the responsiveness of business-processes across devices and systems
    • Inconsistency of the user experience across products and services. These two issues pose challenges on customer conversion, retention, cross-sell effectiveness, and overall satisfaction.
  1. Identify opportunities: There are several ways in which holistic journey mapping can uncover new opportunities:
    • They make it easier to identify and streamline inefficient business processes and inform those in the interaction design on new or redesigned applications
    • Path-contextualization within a customer journey helps optimize cross-sell products and services at the point of interaction
    • Opportunities for new products and services can be identified and brought to market faster

Of course, not all journeys carry the same weight from a revenue potential perspective. Some journeys are more important to the success of a product, a service, or the organization as a whole, than others.

A Holistic Approach Integrates Well with Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

The beauty of the holistic approach is that it maximizes the organization’s investments in both qualitative and quantitative UX research, such as persona modeling and user studies. The approach provides the methodological framework where analysis and synthesis of the data can progress, from transforming ideas into implementable changes to the user experience, validated by analytics and on-going usability evaluations.

The holistic approach can help you classify journeys, prioritize them according to key measures, dynamically cluster them according to multiple dimensions, and monitor the dependencies between critical touch points within each journey and across journeys.

When organizations invest in a life-long relationship with the customer, journey maps provide a method to model, with precision, the growth, sustainability and strength of the relationship now and over time. From the first visit to your website from whichever device, to the completion of a particular path, we are looking at sustaining a thread which may take days, weeks, months or years, before a successful completion.

For example, when we analyze the user experience of a new customer using her mobile device to complete a specific selling flow, the broader context of the customer’s life long needs and wants helps identify, prioritize and optimize the appropriate cross-sell opportunities and ensure that the user experience leads to a successful completion of the flow. This is how holistic journey mapping makes the organization proactive instead of reactive, since current state analysis and predictive modeling are possible.

A Holistic Approach Supports UX/CX Governance and Strengthens the Value of Continued Investments

In conclusion, a holistic approach to deploying journey mapping techniques offers UX/CX groups a robust, strategic framework for governance of the organization’s customer experience in its entirety. It is the straightforwardness of the approach, and the benefits we touched on in this article that strengthen the value of continued investments in UX/CX across the organization.

Do journey mapping right with our Digital Experience Solutions.

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Photo Credit: “Mountain Study 1-2” by Gordon Tarpley licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ezra Schwartz

Director, User Experience at TandemSeven
Ezra has over sixteen years of experience with complex B2B and B2C digital-transformation projects, providing Experience leadership to clients ranging from Fortune 100 to successful startups.

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2017-03-20T15:52:51+00:00