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Forrester claims we’re in the age of the customer. Yet, it was Peter Drucker who posited that “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Therefore, marketing always needs to be customer-centric.  Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity, defines customer-centric marketing as looking at a customer’s lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits. Clearly, customer-centric marketing requires placing the customer at the center of your marketing strategy in order to create and extract customer value.  It is the essence of enabling marketing to serve as a value creator.

Employing customer-centric marketing entails offering customers a consistently great and relevant experience across all touch points. This approach takes understanding what a consistent experience is and what the relevant touch points are.  As marketers and members of the business community you “know” something about your customers.  Knowing and creating the relevant touch points, gaining insights into your customers’ perceptions of experience, identifying which channels are critical, and knowing at what stage they are in their journey, takes more than intuition and experience. In today’s environment it takes data and understanding customer behavior.  The more you can craft a customer journey around behavior the better you can use data and employ the scientific method.

Research by firms such as Forrester and Temkin have found that customer journey mapping is moving front and center for many marketing and customer experience professionals. Why? Because the more you understand your customer’s journey the better you can address opportunities to improve key business results such as product/service adoption, and loyalty.  For example, journey maps can help you uncover breaking points – those points where prospects or customers ride off into the sunset – in your existing processes, enabling you to prioritize process improvements.

In 2010, Adam Richardson, author of Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are its Greatest Advantage, crafted this definition,  a customer journey map is a very simple idea: a diagram that illustrates the steps your customer(s) go through in engaging with your company, whether it be a product, an online experience, retail experience, or a service, or any combination. He highlighted that “the more touchpoints you have, the more complicated — but necessary — such a map becomes.” The purpose of a customer journey map is to illustrate the path your customer’s take from THEIR perspective for whatever aspect of the process you need to map.  The foundation of any journey map is capturing your customer’s steps and the touchpoints, such as analyst reports, peer reviews/testimonials, demonstrations, product information; and channels, such as phone, in person, online, etc. that they prefer in each part of the journey.

Perhaps you’ve already started a customer journey mapping initiative.  If not and you’re ready to begin, collaboratively capturing what you believe is the journey a good starting point, which is the focus of the Customer Journey Mapping Lab. Of course, you’ll want incorporate actual customer research once you complete this step.  Why? Because maps that skip the outside-in step run the risk of merely being a reflection of employee biases.  Good maps leverage outside research to ensure validity. And we can help you with that too.


journey map illustration