As much as we think we can rationally imagine how our customer is going to get from Point A to Point Z, they continually surprise us.
A perfect case in point: I have a friend who was a camp director. Over his career, he had the opportunity to build a lot of new buildings in various camps. In the years that I knew him, he always did the same thing: He built the building or venue, but no sidewalks or paths to get there.
That first year, there sat a beautiful new facility, with a dining hall, boathouse, and tennis courts, but with only foot worn paths to get around. I asked him why he always waited a year to put paths in. Wouldn’t it have been easier and more cost efficient to just do it when he had the construction crews on site at the camp?
“Of course,” he said. But every time he laid down a path where it made sense to him, the campers tended to make their own path anyway. So he just waited a year and put the sidewalk where the campers’ actual feet (literally, the customer journey) guided him.
More and more we are coming to understand that this self-directed journey is the brand. Brands no longer exist separately from the experience the consumer has–or doesn’t have–with them. As organizations realized, over the last thirty or forty years, that a deep understanding of brand could provide significant financial value, customer experience planning is where they are seeing that value today.
Recent studies by Gartner, Forrester, and Maritz all indicate the leading organizations are more than doubling their investment in understanding and planning their customer experiences over the current five-year period. Why? Because the companies running ahead and reaching maturity in their customer experience are demonstrating a 3X increase in customer retention and financial performance. Executives are beginning to much more clearly understand this continuum between customer experience, behavior, and business outcomes.
Sure, there are unexpected twists and turns in every customer experience that we just can’t anticipate in advance. But we’ve found that, if we study and research where they have gone, and we ask them why they did what they did, their paths can become predictable. While different types of organizations attack the journey planning process in different ways, we believe in a very disciplined and structured three-step approach. Our approach has led to customer experience insights for clients across many industries.
We walk you through the customer journey planning process and illustrate how planning has worked for clients in three industries–healthcare, foodservice, and higher education–in our free report below.