Over the last decade, journey maps have transformed from obscure design artifacts to common customer experience tools. And they’re not just for CX professionals anymore. When I recently met with a group of three dozen cross- industry customer service, operations, and technology professionals, most of their eyes lit up when I mentioned journey maps—and several couldn’t wait to tell me about the maps they’d developed themselves. These conversations paralleled many others that I’ve had over the past year with clients hailing from marketing, process improvement, and quality assurance. In short, excitement for journey maps has reached fever pitch.
If so many people are already on board with journey mapping, why will 2017 will be the year of the journey? Because it’s not about the maps.
Yes, journey maps are one of the most effective tools I’ve seen for understanding the end-to-end experience from the customer perspective. But the value of these maps is limited by the extent
to which they’re used. All too often, I’ve seen organizations create journey maps—then struggle to figure out what the heck to do with them.
The concept of the journey itself is the key to finally delivering on the promise of brand differentiation via customer experience. McKinsey & Company backs me up on this: In March 2016, it reported that “journey performance is significantly more strongly linked to economic outcomes than are touchpoints alone.” To realize this business benefit, we need to start thinking less about journeys as things we map—and more about journeys as the organizing principle for how we do business.
We need to organize our people, our resources, and our work around journeys. One vital component of this reorg is the role of the journey manager.
Just like today’s product management roles, journey management needs to be a full-time gig. (Be honest—if you’re not willing to devote full-time resources to this, you’re not serious about improving your customer experience.) And just like product managers, journey managers will need to:
- Have limited scope. No journey manager should be responsible for every single journey associated with every single target customer group. Journey managers need to focus on a single journey—like onboarding or resolving a problem—so that they can truly understand it inside and out. If needed, they can manage that single journey for multiple personas.
- Understand the gaps. Journey managers need to conduct ethnographic research, facilitate current- state journey mapping exercises, and analyze a wide range of Voice of the Customer data to understand customers’ biggest pain points—and how those pain points stack up against those in competitors’ customer experiences.
- Create a long-term vision. Through future-state journey mapping and experience design exercises, journey managers need to define the ideal state of the journey: How would it look and feel? What new touchpoints need to be developed to realize this vision? Which current touchpoints need to go away? How must existing interactions evolve?
- Make the business case. Journey managers shouldn’t create pie-in-the-sky visions that will cost a fortune to implement without returning any business results. They need to prioritize the most important experience improvements and back up their recommendations with a solid business case to secure cross-departmental budget from their organizations’ funding bodies.
- Win the hearts and minds of cross-functional stakeholders. Today’s product managers play a vital role—but at the end of the day, they still work in individual business units. Journey managers will help us bridge our long entrenched silos by identifying, communicating with, and herding cross- functional colleagues who impact various parts of the journey.
I’m not big on predictions. But I believe that journey management roles will become a mainstay of customer experience teams in 2017. And once organizations adopt this new role, they’ll see how the organizing principle of the journey can apply not only to improving (and innovating!) the customer experience, but to revolutionizing the employee and partner experience as well.
This article originally appeared in the eBook The 2017 Customer Experience Outlook, a collection of ideas from customer experience authors, designers, and industry leaders. Download your FREE copy today!