Improving customer journeys can be complex, requiring the input of multiple teams into different channels and systems, but the results can be transformational for you and your customers alike.
1. Increasing profitability
A customer journey focus can impact both ‘jaws’ of the profitability equation, enabling you to simultaneously grow revenue and reduce costs.
Revenue growth can come through both winning more new customers and retaining those you already have. Great customer journeys improve conversion rates, eliminating barriers to customers coming on board, and also generate advocacy that brings more people to your door. At the same time, customers who experience low friction journeys will reward you with their loyalty.
Cost reduction comes about through driving down costs of failure. Higher conversion rates means less wasted effort on people who never become your customers; and creating great journeys means fewer dropouts into alternative channels, reduced complaints and less rework in the system.
Our experience with hundreds of client organisations is that few people can answer how much it really costs to meet their customers’ needs. Focusing on the customer journey is one of the most effective ways to maximise returns and reduce unnecessary expenditure, essential to your business case for change.
2. Exploiting new market opportunities
Understanding the wider customer journey opens up the opportunity for growth based on unmet needs, supporting new product development or movement from one-off revenue to recurring models.
Strong customer experience delivered as a result of a focus on the whole journey is one of the most effective ways to create strong brand advocacy, a potent tool that can give businesses the opportunity to enter completely new segments and be accepted based on their strong track-record.
Apple's reputation as a design-led, customer-focused technology business, first cemented with their computers, music players and mobile devices, has enabled them to move into and succeed in new markets, such as payments and television, with the backing of a loyal supporter base.
3. Consistency and surety
In many cases customer journey design often aligns closely with regulation. We’ve previously covered regulation as a force for good, and find that by taking a step-by-step design-led approach you can reduce many risks, whether financial, reputational, legal or operational, through delivering a consistent and easily repeatable process.
When organisations place the customer at the heart of their work they are less likely to be surprised by change or incur heavy costs to meet new regulations.
4. Talent development
Achieving all the above requires a committed team, capable of putting customers above process and fostering a culture of continuous improvement and development.
Research from Warwick Business School, for example, demonstrated that the most powerful impact of good complaint handling was not customer advocacy but employee loyalty – staff were more likely to commit themselves to an organisation that they truly believed was serious about customer service.
Where businesses genuinely care about customers, and this is reciprocated, you will create an environment which attracts and retains the right people. The result is a self-fulfilling cycle that creates an open and engaged culture to drive ongoing performance improvements.
5. Transformative change
One of the many attractions of customer journeys is that it forces organisations to view the full, end-to-end, experience. Without that, you risk forever working on small improvement projects which miss underlying problems and don't deliver transformational change.
By having a complete view of the customer journey you can review and prioritise competing initiatives, keeping all your changes aligned on the same goal: making life better for the customer.
Whilst focusing on the customer experience will force you to keep pace with new technology, it will also enable you to get the maximum benefit from it. Rather than looking at specific tools, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), as a solution in itself, a customer journey approach would look at the whole problem and consider how RPA could solve this, in the context of corresponding process change and upskilling.
Ultimately a customer journey approach will provide a ‘north star’ to bring together all your change. If you’re doing your customer research well you should be able to identify what is really important to customers and what is just a fad that won’t make a significant difference.
When everyone understands the broad impact that a customer journey approach could have on your organisation, the business case will write itself.
Happier customers, a reduced cost to serve and the opportunity to open new revenue streams, supported by an engaged and talented team of colleagues, is a recipe for business success in the 21st century.