"What Got You Here Won't Get You There." -Marshall Goldsmith.
Every action we take is met with a certain amount of risk. Driving a vehicle, walking across a busy street, shaving, etc. It is impossible to remove risk from our environment, unless you remove the system that creates the risk. For example, in order to be 100% sure you wont get into a car accident, you will not drive (remove the system). The best we can do is minimize risk.
The activities within companies deal with a wide range of risk. Interacting with prospects, interacting with customers, initiating and completing transactions, establishing ongoing communication, executing contracts, etc, all come with risk. What I have found in my 25 years of working in corporate to startup environments is very little to no attention given to developing work-process. While companies may have had explosive growth and become successful, many of them have neglected to map out processes that would help the company run at a low-risk level as they grow. Many times companies realize the need for process after-the-fact or as they begin to notice cracks in their operations.
Just because your company is successful doesn't mean it's sustainable.
What I am referring to in that statement is, the success of a company led by sales and marketing initiatives, with very little to no attention to the operations process and customer experience. Now that CX is seeing rapid growth, I want to caution department heads in diving into the deep-end with CX initiatives. I strongly recommend first mapping out existing work process. I am not talking about a Word document with a bullet list of steps. An organization needs to visually map out the process in a workflow map. This helps those involved (C-level to front-line) to see what is happening from beginning to end. The mapping represents a conscious stream of thoughts by those performing the process. Once the process has been exposed, questions, concerns, and new process can be applied, helping to tighten up process or even re-invent process. Below is just an example of what one of your processes can look like.
Now, don't be overwhelmed by the box and arrows. Process mapping is quite simple once you have someone facilitate it for you. Once the mapping sessions are complete, store the map in a centralized location with a file name of the version and date for future reference. Many ask the question, "Great, I have this elaborate map of one of my processes. Now what? Do I look at this thing every time we do that task?". The answer is no. The map serves as a visual representation of the process itself. Like I said earlier, a conscious stream of thought. From that map you would develop a checklist of items/task that need to be followed in order to safely complete your mission. High Reliability Organization's (HROs) use process mapping and checklists everyday. Commercial airliners, hospitals, oil and gas, manufacturing, etc...Where there is high-risk, there is a checklist.
Developing your work process now gives you a better starting point for understanding your customer's experience. The work process is the blueprint for how your customers traverse across your brand. Your brand has a purpose, otherwise it wouldn't exist. If your brand's purpose is to make a persons life easier by allowing them to book a taxi service with little to no effort then you will want to remove as many obstacles as possible to get them from point A to point B. Sounds simple but without an intimate and detailed understanding of the operation's process, the customer journey will not be as clear or as revealing.
The above image is a typical customer journey map. These maps vary across different businesses but the common denominator is the capture of how a customer travel across the touch points your organization has established. For example; what does it look like for your customer to travel from online purchase to placing a call to customer service to receiving a package in the mail? Are all your touch points aligned with the same type of brand messaging? Are your call center agents all in sync with how they conduct business over the phone? Are your sales reps in the field conveying the same messaging as your marketing team? You can begin to see why your organization is considered 'high-risk'. With so many customer touch points, there is room for many mistakes and a poor customer experience.
Where to start?
Get buy-in from the top. Once C-level is understanding of the need for work process and CX, build an assessment of the current state of your organization:
Start with all current customer facing tasks (marketing activities, sales activities, call center procedures).Map out a process for each activity. (Onboarding, sending emails communications, handling cancellations, etc.) All come with a degree of risk. It is critical that you know the current process for each.Have C-level sit with front-line to map out the processes and a checklist. Use a facilitator who is experienced in process mapping if you are uncomfortable with the initial stages of mapping.Begin to identify what it costs the company in time and money to execute such tasks so that you can tie ROI to your CX initiative. How much does it cost to acquire, to retain, etc.You may ruffle some feathers with department heads because it will feel like you are poking around their domain. That's okay...your company needs full transparency if it is to grow.Begin your customer's journey mapping. At first, much of the mapping can be done by assumption. Every department head should have a strong gut feeling as to how a customer experiences the journey. Begin to map out the journey. Start with an experience you are comfortable with, like marketing. How does a customer find out about your brand - to how they purchase - to how they interact with customer service.
Of course, there is a lot of detail that goes in to your unique experience but I hope this at last gives you a high-level overview of what is involved and what to look forward to in your process building and journey map construction. Feel free to ping me should you have questions. In the meantime I will continue to add content and templates in the near future.