Is Customer Journey Management next?

Growing the size of your customer base and managing it has been the mission of a number of methods, movements, technologies, approaches or business functions (take your pick!) for around the last 30 years. First there was Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which started as simply having a customer data set rather than product management systems (remember those?). Then we had Sales Force Automation (SFA), and Customer Value Management (CVM); within these there were also lots of other “sub-methods” like Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). Now we are grappling with Customer Experience Management (CX) and this has been a movement for about the last 8 years which has been very slowly gaining momentum.

It has not been taken up as fast as CRM or CVM for one simple reason: the challenges of proving return on investment (ROI) to the C-suite. With all the potential that Customer Experience holds research shows that less than 10% of CX programs have any type of ROI or business case (Source: Temkin Research). For the 10% who do have business cases, they struggle to stand up to even the light scrutiny that a CFO would apply.

The reason it is so hard to prove the ROI is because the customer experience/journey spans many functions from Marketing to Service and Operations each of which has its own business cases for the value they create.

However, to succeed CX has to sit above all departments so that the customer journey is managed end-to-end. This can be a massive organisational challenge and organisations have sought to solve this problem by creating a CX programme to implement change across the different areas. But the problem with this is that it is a “one and done” approach to CX – meaning it will have ROI for the individual projects but not for an ongoing BAU of Customer Experience Management. Essentially, businesses have not been creating a permanent function to manage customer experience.

Let’s take a specific example to explain further: Customer Journey Mapping.

Customer Journey Mapping is recognised as the most critical and pivotal component in any customer experience transformation. Journey maps and the journey mapping process are often called the backbone of customer experience management. As an example of “one and done”, customer journey mapping is suffering from becoming “shelf-ware”. It is done as an exercise at the beginning of a CX programme or when a new Head of Customer Experience turns up and then it is not “activated”.

It is certainly hard to show ROI if you only produce presentations or simply make tactical improvements. However, technology now allows us to move from listening, understanding and designing to action and execution: i.e. Customer Journey Management. Customer Journey Management would mean that you operationalise the process and therefore make strategic advancements that will truly impact the business and the experience. As the transformation work evolves and heads up the maturity curve, being able to make that clear connection and statement regarding ROI will become just part of the process.

However, challenges remain. Top of the list is having a single owner who can take control and implement Customer Journey Management. The advent of Chief Customer Officers is a massive step towards this becoming a reality and with the technology emerging that can fulfil true Customer Journey Management, it seems likely that the eight year CX journey will be reaching a new state of implementation maturity.