Mapping the Customer Journey

By Laurent Ghio

An exceptional customer experience can be found in customer journey mapping.

The bank-customer relationship through the ages has been mission-critical, and approaching each customer individually is part of that mandate. But knowing the customer can mean a number of things.

  • From a compliance perspective, knowing the customer includes meeting the expanding regulatory requirements of the recently finalized Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) customer due diligence rules.
  • For the bank marketer, on the other hand, knowing the customer goes beyond determining their identity. It means understanding the customer’s experience and nurturing the customer relationship—which is (and always has been) at the heart of successful banking.

One important tool to help understand the customer and ensure a positive customer experience (CX) is customer journey mapping. According to Gartner in its recent Market Guide for Customer Journey Analytics, “Understanding the customer journey is critical to enhancing customer experiences and operational efficiency.”

In support of this idea, according to McKinsey & Company, maximizing satisfaction with customer journeys has the potential to not only increase customer satisfaction by 20%, but also lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.

Despite this potential, customer journey mapping has often been criticized as a pointless exercise and a waste of time. This may be true if, for example, the exercise lacks sufficient detail, is not focused on the point of view of the customer, and does not involve the collaboration of all relevant stakeholders. In such cases, the customer journey map will simply be a stagnant, non-actionable document that probably cost quite a sum of money to create. A dynamic customer journey mapping strategy that brings real-time data visualization to customer journey maps, however, will allow CX and marketing executives to review and take action to improve their organization’s entire portfolio of customer communication assets.

Don’t forget outbound communications.

An often overlooked detail in a journey mapping exercise is sufficient consideration of the company’s outbound communications to customers. According to Forrester Consulting in its financial services industry report “Overcome Document Communication Roadblocks to Boost Customer Experience” 85% of firms believe document communications are important or very important to the overall CX. These communications take many forms across a variety of channels and through a multitude of touchpoints, including invoices, statements, bill inserts, proposals, quotes, contracts, newsletters and many other forms of correspondence.

It’s critical to capture these communications in journey maps, because they are often key moments of truth for customers. For example, if there are miscommunications, e.g., “I couldn’t make sense of my bill,” then CX is negatively impacted, which may in turn lead to higher call center volume, decreased customer satisfaction and potential customer churn.

Rather than giving thorough consideration to document communications, financial firms tend to focus instead on frontline communications—training and coaching employees regularly on how best to speak to and interact with customers. However, document and content communications are equally important. They must be streamlined, consistent, clear and relevant wherever they are delivered along the journey or they will hinder the experience rather than enhance it.

Journey mapping can help ensure that your banking organization is aware of where and how best to deliver customer communications and to ensure that they not only meet the needs of the customer, but also remain consistent with the brand promise. Mapping helps tell a story that is sequenced in a coherent, comprehensive, and visible way.

When you’re mapping the customer journey for a task that a customer is trying to complete, there are two different approaches to use to get started:

  1. Build an assumptive map, which is a map you start internally that is based on your assumptions of the steps that a customer takes. These maps must be validated by customers.
  2. Map directly with customers, letting them tell you the steps they take to complete that task.

Regardless of the approach used to begin, any and all communications that your customers receive along the journey should be included. To map these communications, they are either placed in the swim lane of a map for a specific journey that your customer is taking or they appear on a map of their own that captures all the messaging that your customers receive from you, i.e., a campaign map of sorts but from the customer’s perspective. Be sure to note the channels through which the content was received.

It’s all about the customer’s viewpoint.

It is important to remember that customer journey mapping should be from the customer’s perspective. For example, if a customer doesn’t mention certain pieces along the journey, that can be an opportunity for learning. Perhaps they simply forgot. Alternatively, it could mean that the content wasn’t impactful and it’s time to replace it.

There are different approaches to mapping your communications pieces, such as sequencing them on a timeline. But the important thing is to capture them—all of them—at the point where they’re received by the customer. This facilitates understanding and helps to detect both communication gaps and communication overloads.

Linking your journey maps with customer communications management (CCM) and other data systems (such as VoC and CRM) is one way to ensure your bank hasn’t wasted time mapping customer interactions. CCM systems, for example, can allow marketing professionals to design, preview, and test communications across every channel. They show side-by-side omnichannel previews so every communication is visible in every channel context. This ensures communication consistency while preserving the channel experience. This also satisfies compliance officers by providing a single proof experience for every channel that is archived and may be reviewed from a central location.

Additionally, it is wise to connect your customer journey maps directly to the digital and physical touchpoints your customers interact with, in order to automate the customer journey mapping process, which should be dynamic in nature to reap the most benefit.

By combining insights gained from journey mapping with the efficiencies that data systems such as CCM introduce, you’ll be sure to meet many of the requirements that customers have when they interact with you. Namely, that the experience is personalized, relevant, seamless, and consistent.

Laurent Ghio is customer communications management expert at GMC Software. A Neopost Digital company, GMC Software provides the means for business users to develop contextual, highly individualized communications across all channels that span the entire customer journey.