Signposts along the Customer Journey

By Andrew Stevens

Processes and interactions from nearly every corner of the bank will ultimately determine the quality of the customer experience you provide. That’s why developing a customer journey map is a useful exercise for bank marketers. It’s a way to track touchpoints with your customers, understand their connections to your organization, and set priorities and strategies. Keep in mind, though, that every employee who interacts with the public has a direct impact on the customer journey. For that reason, you will want to collaborate with representatives from all customer-facing departments when you map out your customer journey.

When starting with a blank map, begin with a touchpoint everyone can agree upon.

This might be one of the early communications, like customer queries about loans or mortgages, interest rates or other products and services. It might involve the most common communications, like marketing pieces or statements. Or it might come from the most valuable communications, like correspondence or checks. A particularly useful way to choose is to determine the communications and messaging that “have always been done this way.” Often, these are most problematic.

Wherever you start, you will want to begin the process of adding touch points to the map by asking questions about that specific communication:

  • What communication did we send before this one was sent?
  • What interactions—not just communications—happen before this?
  • What communications will likely follow this one?
  • Are there automated messages that originated many years ago and no longer make sense?

Each of these touchpoints represents a station on the customer journey map, and each normally generates yet another set of questions:

  • What channels deliver this communication?
  • Who owns the data?
  • Who owns the design?
  • Who is allowed to make changes?
  • When was this designed or last redesigned—and why?
  • Is the same message sent over other channels, but in a different way?

Watch the map take shape.

As you add touchpoints to the customer journey map, you will begin to see parallel swim lanes of interactions and messaging that originate from different sources within the bank—promotional pushes, responses to queries. Some are triggered automatically.

This frequently results in the discovery of some inconsistent messaging. For example, you may see multiple carefully designed, engaging communications before a loan is granted—and those may contrast with the messaging that takes place afterwards. That’s because many organizations transfer ownership at a certain point in the transaction—shifting the customer into efficiency-motivated exchanges. This is natural, because the budgets are different, the metrics are different and the deployment teams are often different as well.

However, such a decline can also signal a red flag in terms of customer satisfaction and retention. If subsequent offers are rejected, or the customer has lost interest and gone elsewhere, it’s time to ask more questions.

  • Were the communications personalized and relevant?
  • Did the pre-transaction marketing communication have a lot of images?
  • When did the communication stop featuring images?
  • Did all channels stop at the same time?
  • Is there a shift in tone between the pre- and post-transaction communications?
  • Is this planned or an accident?
  • Do we sound friendly, and then slip into legalese?

This is where journey mapping intersects with customer communication management (CCM) and customer relationship management (CRM).

Think, now, about your bank’s omni-channel strategy, and particularly the accumulation of assets required to deliver the same message to multiple channels. Too often, many of these assets are scattered across various department silos. This is why the customer journey map should be collaborative—and why it can be a very useful means of pinpointing the source of your bank’s most challenging communication issues.

A detailed customer journey map will provide insights into which communications and/or interactions have resulted in the largest wins or the quickest wins, and which point to some common problems in your customer communications. Depending on how your bank prioritizes items, you will start to look at problem areas you can resolve quickly, easily, for the highest return, to improve retention, or for whatever other goal you choose.

The greatest value a detailed customer journey map provides is that it triggers questions you may not have considered before. Ultimately, you should find yourself asking:

  • How can we coordinate these communications from an operational perspective?
  • Is it possible to ensure consistency of voice across this portfolio of touchpoints?
  • Who should own the overall communication strategy?
  • How can we use the journey map to develop a communications/retention strategy for the long term?

Ultimately, it’s not really the map that matters. The map, like a real map, is a tool. We use the tool to show us what types of challenges we have and to start creative discussions about how we can make improvements to attract new customers, improve customer experience, and retain customers in the years to come.

Andrew Stevens is global banking specialist for Quadient, the award-winning leader in customer communications management software. With nearly two decades of experience at one of the world’s largest banks, Andrew covers all aspects of banking operations and technology with respect to customer communications management and customer experience. He can be reached at [email protected]