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How Customer Service and Customer Experience Teams Use Journey Mapping Differently

Customer journey maps are a common tool in business but different teams use them differently; as companies try to become more customer centric, this needs to change

As companies coordinate more and more of their processes around the way customers interact with them, it requires some teams and functions to think differently to how they have in the past.

Companies have set up customer experience teams to lead this change and reorientation towards the customer. And one of the parts of the company that have had to adjust in response is the customer service function, which has been around for a long time in many companies – certainly far longer than their customer experience counterparts. Because of these different histories, customer service and customer experience teams view similar goals and processes differently, and they need to learn to find a common viewpoint.

One difference is in their perspective of customers. Customer service teams “see” a series of individual customers at the moment they need some assistance, whereas customer experience teams “look” at the archetypal customer across the entire range of interactions they have with the company or end-to-end experience, as it’s called.

In practice, this different perspective means that leaders across these functions use similar tools for quite different purposes – particularly when it comes to customer journey mapping.

Customer Experience Teams’ Use of Journey Mapping

Journey maps trace the path customers take in a given interaction with the company. They are a visual representation of the steps for a given customer process, and looked at entirely from the customer’s perspective. They also incorporate what customers do, think, and feel across the steps of the interaction by focusing on their considerations and sentiment at each point in the process.

Customer experience teams often spell out critical individual interactions that customers have with a company, and look for those that most disappoint customers, as well as those that customers enjoy.

They also use journey mapping as a way of aligning different teams to a common purpose. For example, customers interact with systems, policies, and processes managed by different internal teams, and so journey maps are a good way of showing those teams how they can work better with their colleagues and, ultimately, improve the customer experience.

Customer experience maps also tend to adopt a more proactive posture, trying to smooth the friction customers experience as they cut across different silos of the company (moving from an interaction with someone in marketing to an interaction with a sales rep, say), in a bid to increase the value that customers perceive they get from the company.

Customer Service Teams’ Use of Journey Mapping

For customer service teams, the journey map is much more of a focused diagnostic tool to give customer service managers a thorough understanding of each step of a customer’s interaction with their teams. It reveals the specific places where customers have to put in effort to resolve their concern – which is a key determinant of customer disloyalty – and sees the interactions entirely through the eyes of the customer.

Where the map identifies “pain points” for customers, these can be analyzed and customer service teams can define and prioritize ways to improve the journey. Customer service teams will typically begin their maps with a focus on a frequent customer problem. In that sense, service maps often assume a reactive posture, unlike customer experience journey maps.

This can cause problems, as 70% of customers begin their “service journey” in non-company owned channels (e.g., Google, social media, YouTube, asking friends or coworkers, etc.), which means that customer service teams cannot sit back until a customer “walks through their door,” and instead will need to learn from the approach of the customer experience team.

Nothing Without Customer Voice

Customer journeys are certainly a valuable analytic method; and the resulting visual representation can provoke new understanding and awareness. But a number of managers in CEB’s networks often say that journey maps do not result in real innovation to the experience or customer service that a company provides. This is probably due to an insufficient understanding of customer motivation, as the ability to interpret customer journeys and predict what future customers will do is dependent on that.

But whether focused on the specific touchpoints or the broader end-to-end journey, teasing out the motivational factors which shape customer journeys requires reliable and accurate customer voice. But, unfortunately, “voice of customer” means something very different to customer service and customer experience teams. The next post in this series will look at that.


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