Customer Journey Processes

You’ve done thorough research on your customers and invested considerable time and money to design a great customer-facing website and apps. You’re generating leads. But now what? Are your leads dropping into a black hole? Or maybe your marketing automation system nurtures them, but you have no idea how your customers fare after they purchase the product.

More and more companies are interested in taking a holistic view of the customer journey, because doing so can pay off in greater conversions and repeat customers. But supporting the customer journey requires back-end systems and processes that enable effective gathering, updating, and sharing of customer information to track the client through the entire journey.

To accurately do so—and to apply the information to improve your bottom line—you need to use the same methods for your internal systems as you do for your customer-facing systems. That is, you should conduct thorough research and apply user-experience (UX) principles to the design.

You may find that doing your internal design is actually more complicated than designing your website or customer-facing applications. It involves multiple departments, each with different goals and processes, and often with different systems of record. So, here’s a basic process you can follow:

Identify the corporate customer touchpoints, and involve the department stakeholders

Start with an assessment of the customer touchpoints—the customer’s intersection with different departments. You should be able to map the customer journey and identify each point where someone from your company interacts with the customer, either virtually or in person. That includes everything from emails sent by marketing automation systems to user registration of a product to customer service feedback. Use this process to create a customer journey map with departments identified at each relevant stage.

Based on that analysis, you’ll know which teams you should involve in your design project. Consider any team whose work affects prospects, is involved in sales, or supports customers after they have purchased. Get at least one representative from each team to participate in the project. As with any project, you need knowledgeable representatives who can speak for their team and who see value in the outcome of this process.

Determine goals

A critical component of user-centered design is identification of each audience and its goals. For the purposes of your internal UX project, consider each department as a separate audience and assess the goals of each one. You’ll want to look at the goals the department has for its work with customers, in addition to the goals the department has as an entity.

For example, when it comes to customers, support may be focused on satisfactorily addressing customer questions in a timely manner. As a department, though, it may also have a goal of reducing the cost per incident. It’s important to consider both when designing solutions.

When you complete this step, you should have a list of customer and department goals for every department or team that interacts with the customer. You can combine this information with your journey map to show the goals of each department by customer stage and touchpoint.

Focus on the customer information

Because you are trying to improve the tracking and exchange of information about customers, focus now on that information. For each touchpoint, identify:

  • Input: What information does the team have or gather about the customer?
  • Use: What does the team do with the information? How is it used by this department?
  • Output: Where does the information go and how is it used by other teams?

Keep in mind the goals you listed. As you assess the information flow, ask yourself what information the team could use that it doesn’t currently have access to. Also consider what information other teams could use that this team is gathering or could gather at this stage in the customer journey. This can reveal additional opportunities to better support your clients or to meet internal needs.

Assess the current systems and tools for storing customer information

Now, look for gaps and integration opportunities. Where is information not being passed? Where do you need to integrate systems to exchange information? Where can you make process improvements to better support the customer?

Don’t forget departmental goals as you do this assessment. Some improvements may not benefit the customer but will help improve internal business outcomes.

With the information you’ve gathered, you should be able to create a diagram showing a complete picture of the customer journey and the internal supports for it. Your map can include all the data you’ve gathered about the inputs, uses, and outputs of customer information at each stage and by each department. On your map, make note of the different tools and databases that store and manipulate information at each stage. Your map will then show the gaps where information isn’t being exchanged or used effectively because of disparate systems.

Using your map, you can develop a plan to standardize or integrate the different systems. Of course, your ideal solution may be one centralized tool that all departments can use. That’s often not feasible, though. More likely, you’ll make targeted improvements to integrate specific applications and databases so that they can exchange key information.

Design your systems like you’d design your website

If your solution involves building new applications or intranets, consider spending the extra time and money to do a good design for those tools. Just as customers are more likely to use your website if it’s well designed, employees are more likely to use internal applications that are well designed.

Treating your internal tools project like a customer-facing project does require more time and more money. In the long run, though, a good, user-centered design approach can definitely pay off.