Delivering next level customer journey improvement

Customer Journey Improvement is a key service of Livework’s and has been at the core of our practice for our 16 year history. Over the years we’ve developed a rigorous approach to making real, on-the-ground improvements to client customer journeys, proved across a variety of organisations and sectors. In this article we lay out how we at Livework do it, and how you might go about doing it yourself.

The act of mapping and improving a customer journey remains a quietly radical act, despite it’s increasing popularity. Even now, our team members are surprised by the effect it can have on client teams. Customer journeys are like a wonder drug that seems to trigger a ‘sugar rush’ of outside-in, customer-oriented thinking.

The act of mapping a customer journey:

  • forces teams to think horizontally, the way the customer travels across their organisation, breaking out from their vertically organised silos
  • helps them see how upstream actions elsewhere in the business can have considerable downstream consequences
  • visualises how channels come together to support or undermine interactions, making people really think about words like omni-channel’
  • shows how backstage operational activity has unforeseen impacts on frontstage customer experience. The cherished forehead-slapping, why do we do this?’ moments
  • demonstrates how customer needs for simplicity and consistency are undermined by organisational complexity and inconsistency
  • helps people to drop their departmental baggage and empathise with the customer and the organisation’s shared need to serve them, or no-one gets paid…

These are powerful changes, so it’s no surprise that a steady flow of clients comes to us asking to improve customer journeys.

What is changing is the way we go about it. This is evolving fast, with some exciting integrations with agile and lean delivery.

Lifecycles and Journeys. For more, see our book Service Design for Business

The way to do it:

Ideally, you begin by mapping the journey through research. For Ofsted last year, we went into the world of Early Years Carers and used various design research techniques to understand how they journey across Ofsted’s channels and touchpoints. We found the inevitable blind alleys and dropped balls, but also the fantastic service that the call centre team provide. Also, at this early stage, you want to understand your future context. What year are you designing for, and what trends do you think will be influential by then? This way you design a journey for tomorrow. 
Then you get to do the playback to the client and (as with another recent client) tell them about the time when the customer’s product got lost in repairs for three months. You get what can only be described as organisational catharsis’, which I described here. They get angry with each other because the system they’re a part of is unintentionally broken. And then you show them what the future’s going to look like and everyone gets excited. This is the energy of the process.
The customers’ experience of a visitor to London is a combination of many impressions and interactions that relate to public transport. Asking an NPS question at different points of a tourist journey yields varied results.
Then it’s about focusing down. Prioritising the hot spots in the journey: the issues and opportunity areas where something needs fixing or inventing. Ask which will have the biggest impact on the customer and the organisation. Those are the ones that you then do collaborative ideation and concept development around. 
So far, so normal. You can do the above in a week, or in months. It varies. Either way, now you need to get the service design artwork’ off the wall. You have two main options. Blueprinting or prototyping. Your choice depends on your organisation. The blueprinting approach sees you bringing all the capability owners (people, process, IT, policy etc.) into the room and literally blueprinting how each capability will deliver on each touchpoint. We did this with a major British energy provider. It was intense and at times laborious, but for their way of working, it was really effective. 
Increasingly though, clients are asking us to push straight into multi-channel prototyping. In this scenario, you get the minimum viable service out into the world, in front of real customers. We’ve been doing this for a luxury client, to great effect. Not only has it reduced the risk of the concepts and so supported investment for roll out, but it has also demonstrated to the company that it can change faster.
It can be hard to find the right intervention point to address a customer or business hotspot. This requires understanding the experience, expectations and actions of customers. The good news is that often a series of small, well designed interventions can change and even eliminate a negative hotspot.
This returns us to the opening point. Customer Journey Improvement is a critical part of the service design toolset and increasingly, agile prototyping means we get it off the wall’ and into reality quickly. However, the bigger impact is often felt within the organisation. We find that clients get:
  • a galvanised team who think and see differently
  • a vision for a new journey that better meets both business and customer need
  • a roadmap of priority areas to fix, based on viability and impact
  • a set of prototypes that have been tested and refined with real customers
  • momentum a clear demonstration that a service can be quickly improved by an internal team
  • engagement and skills transfer with a team who are thinking and behaving differently
The challenge is then to sustain this new attitude and behaviour when they go back to their desks and open Outlook! Which is why we offer a wider Achieving Customer-Orientation service. More on that soon.

What to consider if you think this is right for you

If you want to do Customer Journey Improvement ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you know what your customer journeys are? If in doubt, start with one that isn’t business critical, so you get an opportunity to learn at low risk 
  • Can you gather a group of people from across the business to work on an end-to-end? Sometimes gathering a motley crew of the willing and able is enough to get going
  • How will you change based on what you learn? Some can cope with agile prototyping but others may find blueprinting a safer route 
  • How fast do you want to go? Generally, people choose speed because they’re either: a) very new to it and can’t secure lots of resources, or b) very experienced so can knock projects like this out effectively. Best to work out which one you are early on

In this edition

Insights from service design leaders Blog
19 July 2017

Insights from service design leaders

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Customer Journeys and Customer Lifecycles Blog
25 December 2013

Customer Journeys and Customer Lifecycles

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Service Design in Business 2017 conference Conference
21 November 2017 - London

Service Design in Business 2017 conference

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The journey begins long before departure Article
Customer Lifecycles

The journey begins long before departure

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