Here’s a familiar scenario in the customer journey mapping process. Your workshops went well, everyone was engaged and the team is bursting with ideas. You added extra value by creating an environment where people from across all functions shared their behind-the-scenes stories. In doing so they learned a lot more about their own business, which wouldn’t have happened without you. All in all it’s a good result.
With plenty of actions and food for thought there is now momentum. Expectations are high but the ‘journey of the journey’ has only just begun. So as you unplug your laptop, switch off the light and leave the workshop your attention turns to what happens next.
In the first part of this series I explored ways to get buy-in from skeptical stakeholders for customer journey mapping workshops. Last time I looked at how to make sure the workshop stays on track and is efficient use of time. And for this last instalment I want to share thoughts on what to do after everyone’s gone back to their day job.
And that’s part of the challenge we now face. We’ve got people interested and we’ve flushed out some great initiatives. However, the reality is that whatever gold we uncover and however energised we feel, we have to make it part of their day job before the wave of enthusiasm loses its energy. We don’t want it lost in the noise of inboxes and meetings.
A large utility company I worked with recently told me they’d done some journey mapping a couple of years previously. They’d had it illustrated and they’d dig it out to compare then with now. Only they couldn’t find it. After much searching the mystery was eventually uncovered. In a sea of hot-desks at corporate HQ was a line of table-high storage units. Beneath the glass top, but also barely visible under stationery boxes, photocopying paper and a guillotine was a cleverly illustrated customer journey. Had it been on show it would have been a powerful way to engage stakeholders. It told a compelling story and could have been a catalyst for badly needed change. But all the effort had, literally, been shelved.
So what can we do to make sure the path down which we’ve just started doesn’t wind on aimlessly? Here is my take on just some of things we can do.
First things first, thank everyone for attending and write up the journey (s) you’ve looked at. Beyond that, share it personally with other stakeholders who you need to be involved and demonstrate the momentum you now have, inviting them to be part of it. Get everyone to share the outputs with their own teams and make it part of the governance process to have them reviewed and critiqued.
Sharing it widely increases the collective ownership. It will also then keep evolving into a more accurate picture of the real-world customer experience.
Show it off
Customer journey mapping isn’t, as some organisations seem to think, all about creating a pretty picture. It’s important but not the end-game, far from it. What it looks like will depend on what works for your own business and who your audiences are. Some will be at a high-level and others more detailed but if you can turn the brown paper and sticky notes into something pleasing to the eye that’s great. Make it large and put it somewhere that will stay visible. Ask passers-by in the office to comment on it.
Unless you have easy access to a graphics team, my experience is that, at worst, it’s better to have a well-organised table made in PowerPoint, Keynote or Excel to tell the tale than to lose time trying making it look like a storyboard for the next Peter Jackson film. The aim is still to help colleagues understand what they need to change and why.
When you feel it’s in good shape, try it out on a few customers who match the persona from whose perspective it was done. Ask them if they recognise that as their journey and their issues as they pass through it. Play it back to them so they know you’ve understood and ask them what they don’t want to happen at each stage. Having that extra layer of customer validation gives enormous credibility, something that’s hugely beneficial when dealing with stakeholders, especially the one who love to pick holes in things.
Act on it
It’s the most obvious and important thing to do with a journey map but there’s simply no point in doing the maps if there’s no way of using them. It must become a regular feature of the CX governance. Or, as I’ve seen a few times, the creation of a journey map is the very stimulus needed for creating oversight in the first place. The maps need nurturing and harvesting if they are to continue growing and yielding more insights.
Prioritising what to do next is then the issue. Hopefully you’ll have no shortage of possible actions but the mapping exercise will reveal what to do first. You will have identified what’s most important and how well it’s done and that then gives confidence about what to do in the short, medium and long term for customers, colleagues and stakeholders.
Picking off those things that are easy to implement and have a big impact will also demonstrate the proof of concept for when you are seeking greater investments in time, people and money.
Do more of it
It’s not a one-off exercise. The world keeps changing so the mapping will need repeating to stay relevant. That might be at least annually if not more frequently, especially as your changes get implemented and the experience evolves. Even if nothing within the front-line business changes, customers’ expectations shift, competitors up the ante and an IT systems upgrade always seems to have an unintended consequence somewhere down the line.
It’s likely you identified several other personas in the workshop so map the same journey for them. You’ll also have different journeys, some made by yet more personas, to map out too. And time spent mapping what it’s like for a colleague and/or third-party to deliver the experience is as invaluable as it is necessary to complete the picture.
The customer journey mapping process is an essential competency of any business. It’s only part of the CX mix and without it the risks, wasted costs and commercial consequences can be significant.
But with the right engagement and preparation, with robust facilitation and with the resilience to build the momentum you’ve created, your influence will be greater, the connection between CX and the bottom-line will be clearer and the cogs of the business all fit together neatly to deliver the right experiences. A good result indeed.
Follow Jerry Angrave on Twitter @jerryangrave
Thank you for reading the blog about journey mapping, I hope you found it useful. I’m Jerry Angrave, a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP). I’m a CX consultant with an extensive corporate background and I also specialise in professional development for those in, or moving to, customer experience roles. Feel free to contact me with any questions – by email to [email protected] or by phone on +44 (0)7917 718072. More details at the website www.empathyce.com.
It can be hard enough doing business with a company sometimes, let alone if we have some kind of physical or mental disability. However, people who interact with the world in different ways can teach organisations a lot about creating the right customer experiences for them, other customers and – ultimately therefore – the balance sheet.
Having travelled a lot recently and spoken at aviation conferences I’m look at it here from an airport’s perspective. The principles though apply to any sector.
The World Health Organisation says: “Disability arises from the interaction between people with a health condition and their environment.” Airports control the environment passengers are in and therefore it’s within their gift to minimise the impact of being disabled.
After all, whether we’re a hard-working employee always on the go, someone of restricted mobility or a carer with an adult who has a learning difficulty, we all want pretty much the same thing. Last year I researched what passengers said to each other about going through an airport. The 800 comments I reviewed on Skytrax showed they simply wanted it to be quick, easy, calm, clean and friendly. Any ‘Wow!’ factors can wait until the basics are in place and happening consistently.
Airports are under immense pressure to perform efficiently and focusing on customer experiences is key to the game plan. However, we also know that rising consumer expectations are outpacing the rate at which better experiences are being delivered.
By understanding what it’s really like to travel with a disability, not only does it make the experience better for the people who need it most but it also stretches the thinking to improve things for all passengers. And, if doing the right thing needed justifying, it’s great for an airport’s revenue and cost lines too.
It is, of course, about doing what’s right, but there is a real-world commercial context that this sits in. Inevitably there will be some who remain to be convinced, worried about the impact on their processes, operational efficiencies, costs, metrics and compliance scorecards.
Sceptical stakeholders can draw comfort from a number of studies that show how better customer experiences lead to better performance. For example, Temkin Group’s study of 10,000 consumers showed that 81% of advocates are very likely to buy again; only 16% of unhappy customers share the same intent. At AeroMexico, a one-point change either way in their Net Promoter Score had a $6m impact on the bottom line. And in the UK, Papworth Trust says two-thirds of disabled travellers would travel by rail more often if it were easier.
Designing experiences and employee training for the right customer outcomes can take many forms. One tool that’s often used is customer journey mapping. The key is not to simply document processes but to create a springboard from which commercially successful and empathetic experiences can be made and measured. We should think about passengers as being real people rather than fitting the generic segmentation stereotypes of “business travellers”, “families” or even “PRM”s. The maps will then help share internally what it’s really like to be a passenger and what it should be like, through keen observations and a rich understanding of travellers’ motivations, expectations, fears and hopes at each stage of the journey.
I’ve a 13-year-old son with Fragile X, a learning disability on the autistic spectrum. We’ve had awful and wonderful experiences at airports. At Birmingham International for example, we found employees at the gate who took everything in their stride. They were not perplexed at all by Charlie’s flapping, his strange vocal sounds or his lack of social understanding about how a queue works.
There are other airports we will avoid purely because of the noise from hand-dryers in the toilets. To Charlie, they burst into life as a monstrous 90dB howl. It scares him and makes him highly anxious in the days leading up to the flight and while we’re at the airport. So those airports are now off the list of choices, for us at least.
The way he deals with sudden noise is to make his own commotion. It will trigger a meltdown that will see him go through a cycle of angst, anger and distress. It’s a sequence that we can rarely break into, hence why it’s to be avoided if at all possible. He won’t process instructions to “calm down” but he will eventually come out the other side very upset and very apologetic and will want to know people are there for him when he does.
It can be an uneasy time for everyone. At Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport however, if a passenger has an episode in the security lanes the queue management tapes are quietly moved to redirect other passengers away. They leave nature to take its course rather than make things worse by ushering the person out of the way in the hope that no-one noticed.
Physical disabilities are easier to recognise, yet this can still trigger inappropriate responses from airport staff. US daytime-TV host Meredith Vieira, whose husband has multiple sclerosis, talks about the times when he uses a wheelchair at an airport rather than a cane. Suddenly people talk to her, not him. “It’s like he becomes invisible,” she says.
Recognising the potential for unpredictable behaviour is not easy. It’s great therefore to see initiatives such as a downloadable butterfly image for carers’ smartphones at Liverpool airport and wristbands at Manchester. They send subtle signals to trained employees that there may be untypical behaviour ahead.
Likewise, the unobtrusive lapel badges at Los Angeles and the dementia champions walking the floor at London Gatwick. Calming therapy dogs are another great example where everyone, not just those with a disability, benefits.
Emotionally and physically, many will be running on empty. They may not remember when they last had a good night’s sleep. They may have been in and out of hospital for countless operations. They may have lost loved ones who had undiagnosed conditions. They may spend their days helping others go to the toilet or prevent them from self-harming. They may see the world in very different ways to us. They may feel they are always being judged and continually need to apologise.
Their best experiences are therefore ones that simply work and have no friction in them.
Such circumstances put everyday niggles and frustrations at the airport into perspective. Inflexible policies that prevent common sense prevailing, unhelpful attitudes and rushed environments that are not respectful make it one more challenge to endure.
Get it right and they become valuable advocates. Get it wrong and they are unlikely to have the time or inclination to let you know. They might tell their friends if they have the energy but they will almost certainly choose an alternative airport next time or simply stay at home.
Speaking at the Passenger Terminal Conference in Cologne earlier this year, Craig Leiner, transportation co-ordinator with Natick Community Services Department, said: “When we get it right we make people’s lives better; when we get it wrong we make their lives harder.” The message is clear: don’t be the straw that breaks their back.
The stakes are high for all concerned. But if airports and the partners they outsource their experiences to have a deeper understanding of people with a disability, everyone profits. Even Ryanair, once thought of as being very ‘anti customers’, acknowledges that its Always Getting Better programme is turning better experiences into higher revenue, load factors and forward bookings.
Creating the right environment where interactions are easy and calm suits pretty much everyone. People with a disability of some kind help expand our thinking about what those experiences should be like. In the UK, a fifth of the population has a disability and estimates put their spending power at over £200bn. It’s therefore an opportunity not an obligation.
Lord Blunkett, chair of easyJet’s Special Assistance Advisory Group, summed it up neatly in Cologne when he said: “Not only is it the right thing to do, but treating people with decency is a commercial win for everyone”.
It really is.
The last two years have seen big steps forward in the airline passenger experience. Some airlines doing great things in the name of creating a sustainable business. Others appear to be wedded to a get-rich-quick strategy. So it’s not surprising that some have customers who help spread the good word while others feel they are been treated with contempt.
But both make money, so which is more important – long-term survival or short-term P&L? Different strategies for different airlines, but there is one common thread that is treated very differently: people. Or as they are known in some circles,“revenue generators”.
Last week I had the pleasure of once again being part of Terrapinn’s World Low Cost Airline Congress. That the name of the event evolved this year into the Aviation Festival is testament to huge shifts within the industry even in the very recent past.
Only two years ago the mood in the airline sector appeared dark. It was distracted by existential challenges of economic pressures, merger activity and geopolitical forces. Few were talking about customers let alone measuring what is was like to be one. The focus remained on process efficiency, cost and short-term survival.
Forward a year and 2014 felt more positive. It seemed that every conversation and presentation now contained reference to people, passengers or customers. Yet while something customery needed to be done, it wasn’t entirely clear exactly what or how.
This year though, things moved on again with airlines and suppliers embracing the concept of passenger experience. Maybe a more stable economy and lower fuel prices have helped move the spotlight. But, so the theory goes, by aligning the business strategy, operations and partners with what customers value most, passengers will come back next time, spend more and tell their friends to do the same.
For airlines passenger experience is a sound business philosophy, neatly illustrated by two of the industry’s heavy-hitters.
Forward thinking for forward bookings
Ryanair has won awards for its “Always Getting Better” programme. In a move unthinkable until very recently, Michael O’Leary put passenger experience at the top of his agenda when delivering the latest financial results to the markets. And CMO Kenny Jacobs talked last week about the focus on passengers going beyond an initiative to become a lasting cultural ethos. It will move Ryanair from, in his words, being the baddest to the biggest and best. Letting others make mistakes gives the airline what Jacobs, with a mischievous smile, calls its 4th-mover advantage.
It’s fair to say that over at Virgin Atlantic, they have enjoyed a longer history of benefiting from doing what customers appreciate. That’s not to say they are taking their foot off the gas. Moving on from using Google Glass to enhance its experience for Upper Class passengers, the airline’s dispatch team are using smart-watches to improve efficiency of turn-around times and communication with customers.
They embody the test-learn-refine approach, happy to see where a new piece of technology might lead them. If it’s down a dead-end route, so be it but without that culture they will have no foundation upon which to differentiate their experience or operations.
So in contrast to those who are doing some great things with culture and experiences, it was still a surprise to hear one airline doggedly beating the ‘grab every penny’ drum. To name them will serve little purpose but you will know them. I admire any organisation who has a clarity of proposition, though the explanation of their strategy sits less comfortably. To quote one of their senior executives: “We don’t look at what customers want. We look at what they are prepared to pay for”.
Least-cost processes and inflexible policies are then built rather than experiences. Meals (when paid-for) appear to meet approval but passenger feedback suggests that is a superficial and money-making priority compared with the things that should be a priority: long queues at check-in, dirty aircraft and unfriendly staff.
This airline and many suppliers talk of passenger experience because it seems to be the fashionable thing to do rather than be a way of thinking. The reality is that they already give their passengers an experience but because the driving forces remain revenue per passenger, operational efficiency and spreadsheets full of metrics, those experiences – whether deliberate or unintended – are not the ones that win favour.
Are they getting in their own way? Maybe it’s a deliberate, successful short-term strategy of survival and they will worry about next year, next year. Or will they see the balance that Ryanair are working towards as something to emulate?
Only they know the strategy, but passengers know what they’ll do next time.
What do passengers say to each other?
I’ve recently conducted some research into what passengers say to each other about airlines. Increasingly, whatever we are buying, we look to see – and are influenced by – what the experience of other customers has been. It’s no different when we choose which airline to fly with.
For this sector though, one factor shone through as being the biggest single reason why passengers rave about a particular airline or warn others to give them a wide berth; people.
Whether a positive or negative experience, a third of passengers cited the attitude and helpfulness of people as the reason for the good or poor experience. In the positive camp, it was all about the cabin crew, attentive and friendly. When things went wrong however, it was people outside the aircraft who were at the root of the problems – ground crew, contact centres and service desks. As passengers, we do not know nor do we care whether those roles are in-house or sub-contracted out. Whatever the clever strapline says, it’s the airline’s brand in their hands.
The future is already here
David Rowan, Editor of Wired magazine, proved at this year’s event that the future is not something that we can wait until tomorrow to get ready for. Flying cars exist today. Astronauts in the International Space Station are emailed instructions to make tools they didn’t know they’d need by using an onboard 3D printer. And tetraplegics can use brainwaves to guide a robot to help them drink.
Yet in 2015 we still have airlines with grumpy employees, slow and inflexible processes and scruffy aircraft. Other markets outside aviation are moving fast and they are the ones who set our expectations as passengers about what a good experience should be like. It doesn’t have to be “wow” or expensive; if it’s empathetic it will be profitable.
There is clearly of a sense of optimism about the future for the industry and there are many airlines doing great things. It’s a future that will be no less challenging but one where a genuine focus on passenger experiences will help secure a stronger future for load factors, revenue and forward bookings.
So for those who still don’t get it, beware the economic upturn because that will simply prise open the gap even further between the airlines that keep passengers, partners and investors coming back and those who simply run out of options. And passengers.
Thank you for your interest in this post about PaxEx. I share these thoughts simply in the hope it will stimulate some thought about the consequences (intended and unintended) of how your business treats its own customers or helps others with their customers.
I’m Jerry Angrave, a Certified Customer Experience Professional, independent consultant and authorised trainer for the CCXP accreditation. As founder and managing director of Empathyce, I’ve worked for or with organisations in the aviation and travel, retail banking, utilities, legal services and pharmaceutical industries across Europe and in New Zealand.
If you’ve any question on the post or on customer experience in general, please feel free to get in touch. I’m on +44 (0) 7917 718072 or by email at [email protected]