Customer experience (CX) as a strategic imperative has never been hotter and companies are grappling with the best ways to prioritize it. Developing personas, social listening and voice of the customer (VOC) processes are all trending, but customer journey mapping is a proven path for improving CX.
Journey mapping that leads to a consistent and cohesive experience is key to attracting and keeping customers. A Forbes Insight study found 65% of consumers would become a long-term customer of a brand that provides a positive experience throughout an entire customer journey, from initial interest through purchase and customer service.
Superior CX also drives superior enterprise outcomes. Companies that deliver exceptional CX are six times more profitable than industry peers, according to Accenture.
Customer journey fundamentals
For a quick, high-level overview of the customer journey, let’s start with a definition: The total of all contacts, also called touchpoints, that a customer has with your organization and brand.
You may be thinking you already have a good handle on all the interactions and could sit down and map it out in no time. Well, that’s not the best approach.
Here are some guidelines:
- The journey has to be from the customer’s perspective, not the company’s.
- Everything counts. Touchpoints occur in a variety of channels, functions and periods, including:
- Wait times and paperwork at the doctor’s office and reading discharge paperwork
- The steps and processing time to log in to an online account
- Receiving and paying a bill
- Staying at a resort or hospital
- The sum of the experience is greater than its parts. Even if some touchpoints are great, they aren’t enough to make up for others that are lacking.
- One size does not fit all. Every step of the journey should meet each customer’s needs. Millennials may want to conduct all of their interactions on their smartphones. Patients undergoing cancer treatment follow a different path than those having knee replacement surgery.
A single journey map almost certainly will not reflect each person’s set of interactions with your organization and business partners, such as revenue cycle management and accounts receivables management firms. About one quarter (24%) of companies have six or more different journey maps as the foundation of their CX improvement strategy (Ansira).
Improve communications and payments first
As important as it is, journey mapping only gives you the current state. The goal is reorienting your organization to map and manage customer journeys that make CX a key differentiator. You want to improve customer experience so it creates and sustains loyalty, enhances operating results and cuts customer service costs.
You can jumpstart the improvement process with two levers that drive CX for better or for worse: communications and payments. Communications and payments have the virtue of representing touchpoints, generally uncoordinated yet important, all along the journey. Customer communications and payments offer an opportunity to secure some early wins to show the value of journey mapping and build momentum for enhancing other stops on the journey.
There’s also increasing market demand to up the game, including real-time communications and payments. Demand, too, is rising for dynamic communications with faster document generation, IDC reported in a November 2020 study on cloud-based communications management solutions. That’s not all: The requirement for personalized and tailored communications to an individual’s preferred channel is at an all-time high, IDC noted.
Companies can leverage tools and technologies at their fingertips for managing communications and payments to deliver enhanced experiences and operational improvements.
The Expresso customer communications management system lets you break down departmental silos by centralizing development and distribution of digital and print communications on a shared platform. Integrated with ExpressoPay for fast and secure online account management, presentment and payments, Expresso can make it easy to improve CX throughout the billing and payments cycle.
Customers benefit from messaging and communications that are consistent, targeted and coordinated for maximum impact. You can also boost customer satisfaction by customizing options for receiving communications, paying bills and managing accounts through the channels of their choice.
For more support, we’ve developed white papers for vacation ownership and healthcare that delve into each industry’s customer journey, spotlight pivotal steps on the journey including friction points and pain points and offer tips for improving the journey.
Stay tuned for more from Nordis on the customer journey. In the meantime, contact us if you have questions about the customer journey and how we can help.