I’ve just finished reading Altimeter’s excellent ‘2016 State of Digital Transformation’ report (1), and one stat jumped out at me: ‘Only 25% of companies undertaking digital transformations have mapped their customer journeys’. *Sharp intake of breath from the UX and CX purists*, but this sounds like progress to me.

According to John Seely Brown, ‘the half-life of a learned skill is now just five years’ (2). Customer journey mapping has been around for almost 10 years, so is it teetering on obsolescence. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it is. Conferences are filled with consultants claiming they saved the world with journey mapping, while every enthusiastic amateur with a sharpie is now a ‘journey mapping expert’.

So is it time to abandon the tool that has underpinned customer experience transformation for the last 10 years? No, but we need to change. Traditional customer journey maps still have a role to play, but not as the driver of transformation. Today, they are most effective as a communications device –

I’ve yet to see a better tool for making the case for change with senior stakeholders. However, we need to evolve journey maps to stay relevant to the bigger challenges and more sophisticated stakeholders:

  1. Make it tangible. Service blueprints have been around for a long time, but they are still a useful tool to define the capabilities needed to create the desired journey. In digital transformations, we are increasingly moving directly to interaction maps, to combine journeys and processes.
  2. Make it measurable. Stakeholders increasingly want to see the quantitative benefit of customer-centricity. By capturing experience at each stage of the journey first, we can make calculated, data-driven decisions on which areas to prioritise for the greatest ROI.
  3. Make it relevant. Consumer behaviour has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Mobile (distinct from digital) has become a journey all of it own. Meanwhile micro-moments have emerged to describe the millions of thoughts, distractions and tangents that crop up throughout the traditional journey.
  4. Embed it. You need to encode the journeys into business models and rapid responses to keep customers happy whilst they are mid-journey. Rather than letting things fail, surveying them and trying to fix something later.

This is just one reminder that we need to constantly review and refresh the tools we use day to day, otherwise we risk becoming obsolete right along with them.

1 http://www.altimetergroup.com/pdf/reports/The-2016-State-of-Digital-Transformation-Altimeter.pdf
2 http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/

By Colin Smith

Originally published on The Customer Experience Company blog 

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