Customer journey mapping (CJM) uses quantitative and qualitative research techniques to build an in-depth picture of how customers interact with organisations: how they move between services, the channels they use, and how they feel at each stage of the journey.
Research from Forrester in 2016 predicted that by this year more than 60 percent of customer experience professionals will depend on CJM, and the technique is not the preserve of the private sector.
Public-sector organisations are increasingly embracing CJM, and it is no wonder: CJM offers two valuable benefits. It generates an instant picture of the channels, process stages and sentiments customers experience, giving organisations much greater visibility than before. And it gives them a powerful starting point for significant improvements.
The benefits for revenue agencies
For revenue agencies in particular, there are opportunities here. Last year’s Accenture Taxpayer Survey found that two in five taxpayers had made mistakes when submitting information to their tax authorities in the previous 24 months. Scrutinising and improving the customer journey will help agencies to cut down on these mistakes, improving compliance and increasing collection rates.
CJM can also be helpful in promoting the use of more effective digital channels with citizens, which is a key priority for many revenue agencies. I have worked with an agency that was trying to encourage its citizens to move more of their interactions online & to self-serve. CJM showed them that there was a problem: citizens were nervous about whether their payments were going to the right places and had been received. When it introduced SMS messages that kept taxpayers updated about their payments, the agency saw an 80 percent reduction in associated call volumes to its contact centres.
Steps to CJM success
The gains from CJM programs can be very attractive, but making the most of these techniques is not straightforward. Creating accurate reflections of the customer journey, designing improvements, and turning them into reality, requires considerable skill and experience. Here are my five steps to getting started:
- Focus on what you can do once you’ve mapped the journey
Too many organisations see CJM as the final product rather than as a means to an end. As a result, they focus on the resources required to do the mapping, forgetting all about the investment that will be needed to improve future customer journeys.
The mapping process has value in itself, but the greatest value of a CJM is in the insight it offers on where to improve or how to secure a particular business outcome — whether that is increased uptake of a new channel or a decrease in customer complaints. Ring-fencing funding upfront to implement key initiatives once the CJM is complete will help to secure this additional value.
- Move quickly across all functions
Customer expectations change, so it is vital to implement new initiatives quickly once the CJM is completed. This can be challenging for revenue agencies, since most customer journeys will pass through multiple business units and touch several different products and services. This makes it difficult to make changes throughout the journey.
One way to resolve this is to set up small, cross-functional teams that include representation from across the agency. One of my clients formed “journey action groups” for each customer journey it mapped, and the group then took responsibility for delivering the necessary improvements, with each member committed to securing the changes to their area of the agency.
- Prioritise for pain and impact
Some agencies can be unsure about where to start with CJM programs and in summary there are two options. They can focus on the journey that is currently causing the most pain for customers (and therefore probably the agency, too), or they can look at the journey where there is potential for the greatest change or business impact.
Customer pain can manifest itself in several ways. Agencies can look, for example, for services that have low customer-satisfaction scores, high operating costs, large call volumes, unusual staffing needs and/or a significant compliance risk. Alternatively, they can assess potential impact against the transformation priorities that it has already identified. For example, perhaps there is a service which is already planned for a revamp as part of an existing transformation agenda.
Either way, it is best to start small but scale fast. Delivering value quickly will release funds and capacity to support subsequent phases of the program.
- Build capability and talent
CJM is not just about a process; it calls for the right mix of design thinkers, business owners, operational staff and technologists. Revenue agencies may possess some of this talent already, but probably not all of it. Moreover, these are skills that need to be developed over time, rather than learned quickly on the spot.
Agencies will need to think about the long-term structures they need to get the best out of CJM, including whether to recruit or to seek support from external agencies or consultants. However, it is important not to overlook existing skills. I have worked with clients that have gone on to lead central CJM functions after making significant investments in building their design-thinking skills. Others have taken on key product manager roles designed to drive change following a CJM program.
- Focus on the customer
Successful CJM and designing services around the customer requires an ability to empathise with customers and innovate accordingly. For agencies, which may be more traditionally focused on compliance and enforcement, this is not always straightforward and may require proactive change led from the top. These agencies will have to think about how to engage with staff from across the agency and encourage a culture of smart risk-taking and idea creation.
One agency I worked with did this by identifying a C-suite sponsor for each journey. Each chosen executive often had recent, first-hand experience of the journey in their personal life. Having a recognisable figurehead for each customer journey — and top-down support for change — helped to shift the culture throughout the agency.
I hope the above perspectives are useful for agency teams that may be considering embarking on a CJM initiative. I would love to hear about your experiences and whether you agree with my five steps. Contact me on LinkedIn and look out for further posts on what to do once your organisation has made a start on CJM.