The Innovation Framework
Customer Experience Pathway

4 Secrets To Mastering The Customer Experience Pathway

Customer experience pathways are critical to identifying how you can provide the best possible product or service. This guide shows you how.

Positive customer experiences are the key to brand loyalty and customer evangelism. I’ve found that a CX pathway is one of the best tools to plot a customer’s journey from awareness to advocacy. This post outlines the four secrets to crafting transformational experiences.


1. Understanding the Value of a Customer Experience (CX )Pathway

Let’s start at the beginning… I once worked with a satellite provider that wanted to win over cable subscribers. The problem? We didn’t know what those customers desired.

To get inside subscribers’ heads, we used interviews, installation ride-alongs, and focus groups to fuel the creation of a customer experience pathway. This is an illustrative diagram that plots the points in a customer’s interactions and experiences with a brand, be it a product, a service, or a combination thereof, as was the case with this client.

Satellite Provider CX Pathway View 1: The Consumer Journey

Our customer experience pathway, also sometimes referred to as a customer journey map, helped us identify opportunities to provide better service. Over the next 18 months, we implemented a myriad of changes that had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the business and greatly enhanced customer satisfaction, among them providing better customer educational materials, removing inconsistent promotional offers, and streamlining the replacements of lost or broken remote controls.

Satellite Provider  CX Pathway View 2: The Business’ Point of View on Customer Service Delivery

As you can tell, this effort involved practically every facet of the organization — IT, programming, customer service, marketing, customer acquisition, etc. That’s the magic of this process. Journey mapping allows you to see brand interactions from the customer’s point of view by focusing on the full spectrum of experiences. And it allows every business unit to collaborate for the betterment of such customer experiences.

Satellite Provider CX Pathway View 3: Integrated Consumer & Business Perspectives with Highlighted Areas of Opportunity and Improvement

2. CX Pathways Are Powerful Tools

Customer experience pathways are powerful tools for improving customer service because they help you identify high and low points in consumers’ interactions with your brand and adjust accordingly.

They also give you the opportunity to remove ego from the equation — let’s face it, when you’ve had a hand in creating an experience, you’re a little biased about the product or service. The customer journey map neutralizes any hubris and permits you to see the customer’s experience with a fresh perspective.

They also give you the opportunity to remove ego from the equation — let’s face it, when you’ve had a hand in creating an experience, you’re a little biased about the product or service. The customer journey map neutralizes any hubris and permits you to see the customer’s experience with a fresh perspective.

3. Different Shapes & Sizes

CX Pathways will look different for every company (see examples below), but no matter what industry you’re in, you can glean insights from these journey maps and use them to improve your business.

Here’s how:

  1. Assemble your team. Start by bringing key personnel on board. The pathway is meant to be comprehensive, so your team should be diverse. Get representatives from every division to contribute. They will provide multiple perspectives and help you achieve buy-in later. Remember to include team members from departments that don’t interact directly with customers. After all, every division ultimately has something to do with customer service. Here is a group jam session photo from Exploratorium and the ensuing experience map.

  1. Determine customer goals. After you’ve gathered your team, use its expertise to identify the stages of your company’s sales funnel. Sales funnels follow a general pattern from awareness and interest to purchase and evaluation, but they look different for every business. For example, the consideration phase for choosing a restaurant is significantly shorter than the consideration phase for choosing a car.Once you’ve determined your sales funnel steps, identify customers’ goals at each stage. Consider their feelings, motivations, and questions. When do customers become aware of your brand, and what piques their interest? As they consider a purchase, what information do they need?I suggest laying these out in a table with a column for each stage and a row for each customer persona. Use quantitative and qualitative research to avoid guesswork. Surveys, user feedback, phone transcripts, and emails may be helpful. Also, it’s important to focus on customer goals, not your own. If you don’t understand their goals first, you can’t meet yours.
  2. Plot touchpoints. A touchpoint is any physical or digital interaction with your brand. This includes your website, your customer service representatives, and even your company’s social media profiles. Multiple touchpoints exist within each stage of the sales funnel, and customers have repeated interactions with certain touchpoints.Create a comprehensive list of your company’s touchpoints. When, where and how does each happen? What are the crucial functions of each? Compare this to customer goals at the stages of the sales funnel. Which goals do each touchpoint support? Are any goals not supported by your existing touchpoints? If so, that’s a serious gap to address.
  3. Evaluate and repeat. After identifying which goals each touchpoint supports, you need a system for evaluating their effectiveness. Use surveys, feedback, focus groups, and quantitative data to assess whether customers are accomplishing their goals.Build these assessments into the rhythm of your company. Your initial evaluations will help you identify weak spots and provide benchmarks for improving service over time. Subsequent evaluations will track progress and catch problems as they arise.

Mapping the customer journey will reveal gaps in your customer service efforts, but constant technology and market shifts mean customer pathways are continually changing. So revisit the journey map regularly. Reassemble your team and repeat these steps to ensure you never lose sight of the customers’ point of view. By helping them meet their goals, you’ll find you meet your own.

4. Get Visual. Get Creative.

While user insight and team collaboration are essential to building an effective CX map, a great visualization is just as important. The following are some of my favorite customer experience pathways.

This example by Adaptive Path is a journey map that charts consumer interactions and feelings from awareness to advocacy. It purposely doesn’t outline experiential highs and lows.

This gem from Blue Latitude does a phenomenal job of tracking a patient’s trajectory from pre-diagnosis to recovery, while simultaneously indicating what information is pushed versus pulled by the patient. The weather illustrations are a beautiful aesthetic metaphor to viscerally illuminate the patient’s evolving frame of mind.

Here are two similar though substantially different journey maps from Heart of the Customer.  They beautifully illustrate how this continuum can reflect shorter and longer customer paths. What’s also interesting about these particular examples is how they blend personas into the journey maps.

Here’s an example from LOOK that depicts the experiential highs and lows in a circular, recurring process manner.

And here’s a customer experience wheel from LEGO that does the same.

I simply love these examples from Emirates, which are actually more customer touchpoint maps than they are CX pathways, but stunning and highly useful all the same.

Another great experience map from nForm.

I love this student-created CX pathway that charts the current student satisfaction state with a MOMA visit, and post-concept lift.

Here’s another super cool student example.

ThoughtWorks provides very good example of a more traditional CX pathway and this site outlines a phenomenal and very comprehensive UX approach (note: use Google translate).

And this one from desonance is a classic example.

Hopefully, these tremendous references will provide plenty of inspiration! Happy journey mapping!

Header image: Shutterstock; CX Pathways Courtesy of Various Authors

Amber Bezahler

B-school Meets D-School

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