By Asa Sherrill and Diane Magers, CCXP
Changes in the market and in the expectations, behaviors, and values of consumers continue to drive a heightened sense urgency for brands. It requires a need for a concentrated experience focus when crafting a progressive, yet sustainable business strategy to respond to those changes. Experience management is how organizations are becoming more intentional and focused on understanding and designing engagement with their customers, employees, partners, and suppliers to better meet those changing needs and expectations. Brands who intentionally and actively manage experiences realize positive financial impacts and create a huge strategic differentiator that creates growth and generates loyalty.
While technology and digitization have been setting companies apart over the past few years, brands have realized creating capabilities and competencies in experience management is critical for continued success. Brands that focus on meeting new expectations and needs in these incredible times have been able to embrace and build shifts in their culture to an always-on transformation mindset, rapid agility, improved collaboration, all while stimulating innovation that sustains or creates new brand advantages.
One of the key elements of success in the discipline of experience management is journey management. Journey management is the discipline of understanding, planning, implementing, and optimizing a portfolio of journey maps to create brand impact through improved experiences. The level of maturity in journey management varies by company. In more mature organizations they continuously create, maintain and map continuously. There are numerous maps linked to each other and systematically drive awareness, actionability and accountability. By keeping the experience journey top of mind and intentionally managing from current experience state to a future, desired state, it can help orchestrate activities and drive alignment through sustained focus and effort. At every level experience and journey management has proven to be an invaluable tool and capability for transforming the business and enabling differentiation.
Journey management encompasses four primary components: journey mapping, journey design, journey analytics, and journey orchestration and optimization. The discipline of journey management allows brands to rally around the customer by structuring and orchestrating decision making, taking a flexible, fluid, and nimble approach to challenges, and deploying cross-functional, agile teams that can adapt to shifting environments. Journey management can be considered as design thinking operationalized. It reinforces the proven design cadence of “empathize, craft, and analyze,” while at the same time emphasizing the cyclical nature of design, treating journeys as something to be intentionally designed and nurtured over time rather than in a single project.
The first component, journey mapping, provides a deep view of the brand experience: customer perceptions, employee perspective, and audience behavior. Mapping the journey creates the bedrock for purposeful and comprehensive journey design. Experience journey mapping is a well-documented practice that helps organizations understand and guide improvements in the customer experience. When done effectively, it uncovers valuable insight into CX issues and opportunities, and it aligns stakeholders around a common vision. Leverage Macquarium’s Journey Mapping 101 eBook for best practices, frameworks and “how to” approaches for executing impactful journey and design sessions. Click here to request a copy of this comprehensive resource.
Building on the journey mapping bedrock, journey design is the intentional and purposeful extended exploration–applying experimentation and knowledge–of an experience, with a focus on the needs and expectations of the participants. It provides a framework to both uncover and then redesign how and what happens within the brand’s experiences. These experiences can be physical, personal, digital, product, or other interactions. Most importantly, journey design moves toward an understanding of the value created for both the customer and the brand. Journey management aims to provide an ongoing understanding of customer and company value needs, not just a single time, but in a cyclical manner. Every time a journey is manipulated, it introduces an effect on the audience, which should then be taken into account when making the next change. These insights are the basis for optimizing interactions and set the stage for purposeful design of the experience.
For example, a financial management brand realized their onboarding experience wasn’t enabling their clients to take full advantage of both their online client features or their financial planner services. By redesigning the experience, the brand was able to help clients realize faster, more efficient ways to manage their accounts, automatically request additional planning services and created improved relationships with the account management teams. By using journey design, the brand created value for the customer by helping them save time, realize better returns, created more personalized approaches to optimize their investments and outcome and also realize increased share of wallet, reduced cost to serve and increases in revenue and profitability.
To truly understand the effects of experiences on audiences, it is necessary to implement a program of measurement. Using a journey approach – rather than a siloed approach – which merges all types of data including customer sentiment and intelligence, behavior, operational and financial information across all the interactions and channels giving a full, rich, comprehensive and actionable set of insights. Brands can leverage journey analytics to track, discover, and optimize opportunities and quantify the impact of improvements to the journey. This type of measurement involves baselining, monitoring, and targeting value creation. With rich analytics and critical insights in hand, brands can revisit existing journeys, revise them to suit changing needs, and use that additional knowledge to inform future changes to the experience.
Journey Orchestration and Optimization
Lastly, journey orchestration and optimization is the lens brands can use to analyze, coordinate, and enhance the elements of their journey management discipline. Journey orchestration is the ability to have visibility real-time monitoring to make immediate and initiate more systemic changes to the experience journey. With a focus on optimizing mapping, design, and analytics, journey orchestration to simplify the transition from current methods of interacting with customers to a future desired experience. Efficiency and effectiveness in journey orchestration and optimization enhances personalization and creates additive business value–creating benefits at each touchpoint and also the additive value of integrating and optimizing interactions between and across all touchpoints. It allows holistic journey management, measurement, and value by delivering what customers need from their engagement with the brand.
In the rapidly changing business environment, brands must embrace and incorporate a holistic, “continuous learning” mindset in order to understand the marketplace and shifting customer needs. This mindset must be supported with structure, data, and high-quality information. Journey management can enable brands in this critical competency by providing an extended view of the activities and experience of a brand and offering the ability to tap into new sources of value and growth. The result is an ever-renewing source of inspiration for brand improvement.