Creating a Future State Vision Based on Current State Understanding
In today’s hypercompetitive market, it’s not enough to provide customers with a single positive customer service interaction. To stand out, you must consider and support the sum of every interaction that people have across modalities, channels, and their lifetimes with your brand – also known as the customer journey. To this end, customer journey mapping can be a powerful tool for helping you predict, prepare, and provide service throughout your relationship with your customers.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is step-by-step visualization of the path a customer takes while interacting with a company, from researching to buying to requesting support. They help brands identify gaps in service as interactions move across departments, channels, devices, and modalities. When backed by data and acted upon, customer journey maps are an effective tool for understanding, improving, and designing exceptional customer experiences.
You’ve likely heard of customer journey mapping before, but did you know there are two distinct phases to the process? The first, current state journey mapping, covers the experience that customers are having with you now – the good, the bad, and the ugly – based on their existing behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. The second phase, future state journey mapping, focuses on the ideal experience you want customers to have with your brand, based on what is getting in the way today, on delivering those moments that matter. It resolves the friction and pain points identified in the current state assessment while also creating new opportunities for engagement to keep them coming back for more.
Organizations that have and use customer journey maps are twice as likely to outperform competitors than those that don’t, according to Gartner.
The most common mistakes brands make when mapping is avoiding the difficult work of understanding their current state and noting where they’re failing the customer, and instead jumping right into implementing shiny new CX tools for the future state based on what they think their customers want. One without the other can severely skew any CX plans you make – costing you time, money, and, in the long run, customers. So, let’s dive into how to create a future state journey map to help set you – and your customers – on the right path.
The Future State Journey Mapping Process
After completing your current state journey map, it’s imperative to act on it. A future state journey map helps guide this work by creating a visual representation of the best possible experience your customer can have when they engage with your brand. Here are four steps for designing and deploying a clear and actionable plan for a new and improved customer experience:
To improve your brand’s CX, you must first know where it currently stands. Your current state journey map will help you understand the moments that matter in each customer journey, the pain points standing in the way of these moments, and solutions to help you bridge this gap. Once you have this information in hand, only then can you start dreaming up all that your customer experience could be. Gather ideas from both external sources, including current and potential customers, and internal ones, especially frontline staff members who interact with customers, through surveys, focus groups, and conversations. It’s important to gather buy-in from both stakeholder groups to ensure the new journey is as supported as the people who will be tasked with carrying it out. At Avtex, we use a human-centered design process to gather these ideas and convert them into actionable steps. During a series of design-thinking workshops, cross-functional teams of stakeholders are guided to work together to create their shared ideal customer journey.
Combining the strongest aspects and ideas from the brainstorming session and the current needs of your customers identified in the current state map, sketch out a future state journey map that includes all the steps your customer will take across every potential channel. Your map should explain what your customer is thinking, doing, and feeling before, during, and after each interaction with your brand so you can best determine the journey that gets them from where they are to where they want to go. It should also clarify the solutions that will be used – from chatbots to loyalty reward programs – and the reasoning or business case behind each one. Where your current state journey map focuses on gaining an understanding of the current path and associated pain points, your future state journey map should focus on a transformational experience, using new solutions that appear across the customer’s end-to-end experience, that avoids problems before they even exist.
The future state journey map you just created will serve as a guideline of how to align your operating model, including training, staffing, technology, and internal processes, to successfully carry out your new customer journey. By taking stock of your current capabilities, you can determine how to capitalize on the tools you have and where to find the biggest return when making new investments in your business.
Even the best-laid future state journey map can be rendered useless if it isn’t acted upon in a timely and intentional manner. But where to start? At Avtex, we prioritize the first step in each client’s roadmap differently based on several variables. For one, it might be based on the impact on the customer, for another it might be the impact on the employee. How much business effort or IT effort is spent can also alter the order of actions. Your organization’s mission and values should dictate the priority of your map. And with the evolving nature of CX – including evolving customer expectations, behaviors, and market conditions – your customer journey must evolve, too. As you build out your new experience, different tools and techniques, like process mapping and UX research and design, will help ensure you can solve new problems and meet ever-changing needs. By approaching your map implantation as an iterative process, it will help to ensure your brand is aware of and responding to this ever-changing landscape.
Map Your Future with Avtex
From aligning your departments around a common vision to prioritizing the customer in a way that builds loyalty and lifetime value, the benefits of using current state and future state journey maps together to drive your customer experience are vast. We know because we’ve seen it first-hand. For more than 40 years, Avtex has helped businesses unlock these benefits and more through our innovative, end-to-end CX solutions, including hands-on journey mapping workshops. Working together, we can help you map a best-in-class transformational journey to lead your customers – and your brand – to new heights.