Image by: Wavebreakmedia Ltd, ©2015 Getty Images

    You might be surprised to find that your company has several masterpieces, worth a million dollars, lying around. Some might be on display in a conference room with double-sided tape. Some may be tacked up on a cubicle. Many more are ignored, as PDFs or Visio diagrams in attachments to emails that are long forgotten.

    As the concept of customer experience management (CEM) appears as a way to improve customer experience (CX), many enterprises are undergoing exercises in customer journey mapping. These sessions can involve many stakeholders, and even clients, to map out all of the potential interactions that your firm has with prospects, clients and employees across the entire spectrum of communication mediums.

    The sessions start with tape marking your stages of the customer experience—from awareness through purchasing and continuing on to long-term renewals and referrals. They involve hundreds, or even thousands, of sticky notes illustrating potential customer experience touchpoints. Hopefully, the participants will take a step back and see that customers’ individual paths aren’t clear.

    Ideally, at this point, stakeholders align and see what types of communication processes frustrate current clients and delay orders from new prospects. If they make it to this stage, the silos start to break. However, those involved in this process usually don’t make it this far. The timebound workshop is over. People leave early to catch their flights. The information stays on the wall—as a million-dollar piece of art—with wasted salaries, workshop expenses, reports and consulting fees amounting to nothing more than paper.

    Today’s CX professionals want to roll up their sleeves and get to work; yet they are missing the tools.

    Even if the map attracts sponsorship from the chief experience officer (CXO) or the chief digital officer (CDO), the map becomes static. Inherently, the map’s format of images, PDF or Visio diagrams, are visual media. They are an output. To really impact customer experience, this process has to be continuous. As the problematic experiences are improved, friction is removed and metrics improve—your overall universe of potential customer journeys is ever-expanding. However, the journey mapping workshop has long since disbanded. Today’s CX professionals want to roll up their sleeves and get to work; yet they are missing the tools.

    The thinking today relies on the concept that the customer is the one in a position of power. The customer will find the easiest way through your infrastructure. If they get frustrated, they will likely choose another vendor. If they wind up in the call center too many times, have to re-enter data too many times when trying to respond to an offer or have to type in a complex password on a mobile app, they feel they have good reason to find a new vendor.

    Often, experiences like correspondence, statements and policies are ignored by teams looking at customer experience. The split between marketing communications and operational communications often renders the operational communications invisible to projects that study customer journey. Ignoring these communications places all other communications at risk, because the motives are different between these communications.

    Today, you need more than a consistently maintained customer journey map. You need the ability to reach into that journey map, understand the experiences involved in each step and improve the experience. Enterprises need to be able to manage a portfolio of experiences, asking questions, judging performance, evaluating alternatives, testing hypotheses and making an impact.

    Today’s customer journey mapping and customer experience management technologies are built around the premise of reporting results, finding errors and then making corrections. This method is flawed because the starting point is failure. A success-based approach connects your actual customer communications to the communications themselves, making key properties visible to stakeholders in the work unit of the applications. This includes integration with multiple performance data sources to associate sentiment data, performance data, cost data and other key metrics to the project units that create the communications.

    To be successful, a CXO needs to be able to look at the entire customer journey, drill down into actual samples of the communications, understand how they relate to the specific customer’s state and make alterations. The CXO and CDO want to make a massive impact, but they do not want to learn all of the complex details of creating multichannel and omnichannel communications. They want to see the journey map, know it is current and reach into the map to make an impact.

    Without these capabilities, a customer journey map is just a million-dollar piece of art, instead of an interactive interface. Tomorrow’s CXO and CDO want to reach into the customer experience, like the boy who put his hand through a multimillion-dollar piece of European art.

    Scott Draeger is vice president of product management at GMC Software Technology, a provider of multi-channel and highly personalized document outputs for customer communications management. For more information, visit or follow him on Twitter @scottdraeger.

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