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The Future of CX: A new white paper highlighting the 5 key steps to take your customer experience strategy to a new level

Experience.com’s latest white paper guides CX leaders through the new world of customer experience management, offering insights on the processes, tools and strategies needed to drive measurable outcomes.

The Future of CX is now. Customer behavior trends have dramatically shifted during the last year, leaving enterprise organizations struggling to keep up with the pace of change. After a disruptive and tumultuous 2020, business leaders now know that entire business models can change overnight. 

To help brands thrive in the new normal, Experience.com has published a comprehensive resource for marketing organizations and CX leaders, taking them through the five key steps for building exceptional customer experience strategies. 

The full white paper includes more than 30 pages of insights on the processes, tools and strategies needed to build a comprehensive customer experience program, but you can read the first chapter here. 

“The Future of CX: Five Key Steps to Take Your Customer Experience Strategy to the Next Level” A White Paper from Experience.com 

Chapter One: Customer Journey Mapping — Defining the customer touchpoints that matter
The foundation of your customer experience strategy is built on your customer journey map. Savvy enterprise marketers know an effective customer journey involves a continuous string of defined touchpoints that lead both prospects and returning customers to take specific actions, from learning more about a company or product to entering contact information for lead gen purposes — all the way through to clicking the buy button and leaving a review.

To build a successful customer journey, you must be able to identify all possible customer  touchpoints, or interactions, and then determine which have the most impact on the business outcomes you want to achieve. In fact, in his book “Create WOW Customer Experiences,” Experience.com’s CEO Scott Harris says the very first rule to designing a perfect CX strategy is focusing on the most impactful interactions. 

But how do you know which customer interactions have the most impact? Before we answer that question, it helps to understand what makes up the full customer journey map and why it’s so important. 

What is a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map highlights every touchpoint that happens between a prospect or customer and a brand within the customer experience, from discovery to purchase and beyond. Customer journeys can include digital touchpoints or in-person interactions. Your customer journey map starts the moment someone engages with your company and continues throughout the customer life-cycle.

Customer journey mapping is the process of defining each touchpoint within the customer journey. Enterprise organizations often have multiple customer journeys that are unique to varying customer personas, with intersecting pathways and interactions. Creating a customer journey map — a visual representation of the multiple touchpoints within the customer journey — can be a complicated and difficult endeavor, but it is a crucial part of managing CX initiatives.

Why the Customer Journey Map matters

According to Gartner Advisory Director Cassandra Nordlund, “Customer journey mapping is critical to being successful as an organization and understanding your customers better.” 

Based on Gartner’s research, 82% of organizations have created a customer journey map, but, unfortunately, only 47% are using those maps effectively. Gartner reports that when it comes to building effective customer maps, organizations are failing to understand the context of customer touchpoints within the customer journey. 

“When creating a map it’s easy for businesses to fall into the common trap of adopting a general approach to segments, where the final output of a map reflects more of the company’s perspective than the customer’s,” writes Gartner, “These types of maps guide marketers in the wrong direction, measuring and optimizing touchpoints that customers may not value.” 

This is why focusing on high-impact customer touchpoints is so important: It enables marketers to add context to each interaction and identify which touchpoints get them closer to the intended goal. Not all interactions are equal in terms of the value they bring to the customer experience. Putting too much time, effort and money on an interaction that doesn’t move you closer to the desired business outcome is a waste of your team and company resources. 

How to identify your most important customer touchpoints

The most critical customer interactions across the customer journey are the touchpoints that deliver the most value within the customer experience. Before you can define which touchpoints are most important, you must first establish your customer journey map. Depending on the size of your organization, this could be an exhausting task due to all of the potential customer engagements that can happen online or in-person. 

For anyone new to this process, it is best to start with the basics. Experience.com’s CEO has outlined the following seven steps to help you build a single customer journey map:

  1. Set the customer objectives for the journey. 
  2. Profile the personas and define their goals. 
  3. List all the interactions within the journey. 
  4. Identify the best measurement method for each interaction.  
  5. Identify the elements you want to show.
  6. Make sure your team has moved through the customer journey to find any gaps. 
  7. Build a framework or plan for any needed changes along the journey. 

If your organization has already identified hundreds of customer journey maps, you have too many. Experience.com’s research shows most industries have approximately ten seminal customer journeys that drive measurable business outcomes. Within these ten journeys, there are likely multiple interactions — the goal is to drill down to five to ten customer touchpoints that carry the most weight within the customer experience. 

Horace Mann, an insurance and financial services company that focuses on retirement annuities and mutual funds, implemented Experience.com’s customer journey mapping exercise to identify their most important customer touchpoints. Their VP of Experience found that the three specific touchpoints that fit into their “Impactful Interactions” bucket when it comes to human interactions included Local Agent Experiences, Claims Agent Experiences and Employee Experiences

The company also identified digital CX touchpoints that greatly impact the customer journey online, from the strength of their online customer service support functions to payment processing features and scheduling capabilities. When looking to refine their overall customer experience strategy, the company was able to identify these interactions as high-impact touchpoints and prioritized them accordingly. 

Exceptional CX doesn’t have to be a labor of love

More than two years ago, Forrester reported leaders in the CX space garnered brand preference and were able to charge more for products. The research firm also found that the quality of an organization’s CX programs can affect stock performance. 

“The benefits of CX for investment firms are staggering,” wrote Forrester in a February, 2019 report, “A one-point improvement in CX Index score can yield $19 billion more assets under management for the average multichannel brokerage and $6 billion more assets for the average direct brokerage.” 

Since these findings, massive disruptions have happened across industries along with major shifts in consumer behavior patterns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The events of 2020 underscore the importance of exceptional CX programs: Being able to map the customer journey is a major priority as businesses are having to relearn how their customers interact with brands. 

Without question, mapping your customer journeys can be an overwhelming operation, but the key, according to Experience.com CEO Scott Harris, is not to overcomplicate the process: 

“Don’t make your journey mapping exercise a labor of love. Simplify it by choosing a few seminal journeys and focusing on the most impactful.” 

This blog post includes the first full chapter of Experience.com’s recently published white paper: “The Future of CX: The 5 Key Steps to Take Your Customer Experience Strategy to the Next Level” — a phenomenal resource for marketing leaders and customer experience teams covering every aspect of exceptional CX, from identifying your organization’s most important touchpoints to the automation tactics that can help move the needle. 

Download Full Whitepaper

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