February 05, 2015 | By Megan Heuer
Maps are great, aren’t they? There are maps on your phone to keep you from getting lost or stuck in traffic, historical maps that look beautiful framed as artwork, and even guidebook maps that show exotic place to visit. Unfortunately, the map your company needs most is one you might not have: a customer experience map.
How do I know this? Our recent study of b-to-b companies in the U.S. and EMEA showed that while 64 percent of b-to-b companies have some kind of customer experience function, they don’t have those functions create experience maps. In fact, just 43 percent of those are doing customer experience mapping at all.
This lack of mapping is a big problem. How can a company deliver a great experience without a comprehensive view of what’s happening and what needs to change? Perhaps those who have been through a mapping process in the past are scared off by how big and complicated that process may have been. The good news is that experience mapping doesn’t have to be scary, and now is the perfect time to get started on it.
It’s so important to bring mapping into the organization as a customer experience skill. Just like Google Maps made life easy for those of us who did a lousy job navigating with fold-up paper maps in the past, taking a fresh look at new methods for customer experience mapping can help organizations fearful of mapping get back on the road to better retention, loyalty and advocacy.
Let’s start with a definition: Customer experience mapping is the first step toward taking stock of customer experience activities and communicating across the organization to promote better understanding among all contributing functions.
Customer experience mapping in b-to-b is different from b-to-c (where examples tend to be more easily found). The b-to-b customer experience is more complex for the following reasons: the significant post-purchase presence of sales and/or partners, the need to map interactions for multiple roles within customer accounts and buying centers, frequent inconsistencies in the delivery of experience, and inconsistent availability and accuracy of data.
This complexity requires more than one type of map to solve different problems or goals:
- Inventory map. Often the first map to create if you’re just getting started, an inventory map presents information about a broad range of activities across the customer lifecycle for a specific customer role. The map can be used as an internal resource for prioritizing experience changes, or an external resource to help experts or consultants to understand the current state before recommending changes. An inventory map can reflect the current state of customer experience or the planned future state; a complete mapping process includes both current and future-state versions. Starting with a basic list view (e.g. an Excel spreadsheet) can prevent spending a lot of unnecessary time creating boxes and arrows when what’s needed initially is an overall view of who is doing what and when, and how well it’s working today from the customer’s view. Don’t make mapping harder than it needs to be.
- Activity map. This type of map presents a process view of a specific activity (e.g. placing a service call) or related group of activities (e.g. customer onboarding) to help the organization understand what is happening from the customer’s point of view. It can also be used to provide an internal view of current processes for delivering these activities, which is often a great way to understand what’s working and what is not. Like an inventory map, an activity map can reflect the current state of the activity or the planned future state. Use this type of map to take a deeper look at aspects of experience that need attention based on findings from the inventory map process. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t process map it. Put your energy into what needs it – and avoid mapping for the sake of mapping.
- Data capture/structure map. This type of map, which can be built within an inventory or activity map, shows the capture, flow, storage and use of data during the customer experience. It can reflect just one customer process or the entire experience for a given customer role. Use this type of map to identify and resolve issues (e.g. finding places where information is collected and not shared, or where multiple systems are part of process that needs to be streamlined.
Each of these maps can help customer experience and other teams (e.g. customer marketing) get a solid understanding of what needs to be done. They also literally provide a picture for the rest of the organization to help them understand as well. It’s powerful thing to know where you are, where you’re going and what it will take to get there.
** View the OnDemand SiriusDecisions Webcast: "Customer Experience Success: Lessons in Collaboration and Keeping Score from Imprivata’s Journey.” Carina Edwards, Senior Vice President, Customer Experience at Imprivata joined me to share how she has led customer experience changes at Imprivata and what it took to deliver quantifiable success.