Why a Journey Map is Key to Your Digital Technology Strategy

February 25, 2016 Ashley Brucker Stepien

digital technology strategy

Forrester Research released their report “Your Digital Experience Technology Strategy Starts with a Customer Journey Map,” and after reading it, I felt like they had been crawling around inside my brain. No other report has resonated with me so much, hit the nail so rightly on the head, or so clearly stated what organizations need to be doing in 2016.

Forrester plainly states that “It’s a digital experience program, not a web or mobile technology project.” In my own eloquent words, stop implementing technology in silos and start applying a Customer Experience lens! (Did you get the impression that I was screaming that? Good.)

Why? Because businesses who lead with Customer Experience win. If the customer is at the center of your intentions, the revenue will inevitably follow. When business objectives are at the center of your intentions, customers can get lost in the shuffle (and they feel it). The leading companies of today not only understand this concept — they live by it. Don’t take my word for it, take Steve Jobs’s. (Can I get an amen?)

Begin with a customer journey map, and then take it to the next level

I agree with this Forrester report so much that I’d like to take it a step further. Everyone should be using customer journey maps to dictate their digital strategies. But they shouldn’t stop there; customer journey maps should also dictate business processes, and really any technology initiative. Furthermore, companies should be building worker journey maps that enable them to look at the other side of the coin.

Let’s take a real-world example. You want to implement a customer service portal, do you? Sounds great. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. How does your customer stand to benefit from the solution? Remember, the customer has to be at the center of your intentions. To ensure this, a customer journey map will help you understand where there are gaps in your people, processes, and technologies. It will allow you to look holistically at your customer lifecycles to truly understand the pain points and opportunities, and — as Forrester puts it — “add relevancy to your investments.”
  2. How will your workers be impacted by the solution? We’ve said it before and we’ll likely say it a million times again: engaged workers make happy customers. If your workers aren’t satisfied, made more efficient, and — dare I say, enjoying the current or future solution — you might as well save your time and money and quit while you’re ahead. To ensure worker satisfaction, we’ll flip the coin and map the Worker Experience. The worker journey map will expose where they’re having success, where they’re wasting energy, and where they’re experiencing unnecessary pain.
  3. Now we can talk solutions. Once we’ve mapped both journeys, we have a clear view of the path forward. Instead of just plugging in a cool new tool, we’ll have the knowledge to confidently decide which processes require optimization, change enablement, organizational evolutions, and yes, those cool new tools.

The importance of strategy in technology projects

As a consultant, there are no projects more terrifying than those that lack strategy; those that are simply an order to plug in a tool as quickly as possible. When strategy is absent, technology gets implemented in silos. Silos lead to fundamental breakdowns in vision, communication, and overall effectiveness. Without strategy, technology will not deliver on its true potential, and will ultimately need to be either ripped out or redeployed. Investing in a strategy upfront means creating a vision that serves a broader objective, works cross-functionally, and accelerates and enhances value (and really, saves money in the long run).

The Forrester report subtly highlights something else: the fact that there are a lot of technologies out there. A lot of tools deeming themselves the “Customer Experience solution” or the “Customer Platform.” The space is getting crowded, which is actually kind of fantastic; as the consumer, that means you have choices. But it also means you may face confusion. Navigating the Customer Experience technology landscape is a daunting task, a task I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. And I know this because I’m in the middle of mapping it all out — tool for tool, channel for channel, function for function. It’s exhausting and exhilarating because I love to see where this space is going, but wow, is it tough to keep up with.

But know this, it does all start with a journey map — and, most likely, more than one. Let those journey maps be your guide. (Well, that and a Customer Experience expert — if you can get your hands on one.)

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