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Customer Journey Mapping: Which Touchpoints Really Matter?

Customer journey mapping is an important part of measuring the customer experience, but getting started with this exercise can feel overwhelming. How do you create a customer journey map? What is a touchpoint in the customer journey? Which touchpoints should you include in your customer journey map? And more importantly, which touchpoints should you measure?

In this session, we talk about the customer journey mapping process, and show you how to determine which touchpoints matter the MOST, how to measure those touchpoints, and how to scale your program from there.


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Sean McDade: ...these journey maps sometimes take a life of their own. They take too long, and I think people forget about why they were doing them in the first place. So think of it as "moments of truth" mapping - if you can identify "moments of truth" with your customers, then you can do something about it to make sure they go right every time.

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Madeline Good: Hi everyone! Welcome to PeopleMetrics LIVE! Today we're talking about customer journey mapping and how to quickly determine which touchpoints within that journey should matter the most to you as a customer experience professional. If you've got any questions for our team, please drop them in the comments below and we'll be sure to answer them. So Sean, many CX teams already know their customer journey map pretty well, and some have for years in some cases - so does today's lesson about journey mapping apply to those people?

Sean: Yes it does, in fact. Journey mapping, as you said, has been around a long time... but for every company that's done journey mapping, or maybe haven't, this is the best time to do journey mapping because your customer behavior and journey probably has changed. COVID hit us about a year ago now. A lot has changed in terms of the way customers interact with companies. Almost every client that we interact with, right Audrey, probably has
had some change with their customers in their journey with them. Now is the time. I'd like to just first state that customer journey mapping is something you should be doing now, and my suggestion is that you kind of whittle it down to the core of what journey mapping was supposed to be - and that's identifying "moments of truth" that you have with your customers across their journey. I'm going to just define a "moment of truth" right now because we'll talk a lot about it today. It's a moment where your customer interacts with you where if it goes wrong and it isn't up to their expectations - the customers expectations - they could leave or likely churn... or say very negative things about your company in public or private. And you know negative word of mouth spreads. If it goes well, they feel some sort of emotional connection to you and feel like you care about them as a customer. So, you know, think of it as "moments of truth" mapping .You know, we'll get into this in a second, but you know this is a pet peeve of mine, both Audrey and Madeline, that these journey maps sometimes take a life of their own. They take too long, and I think people forget about why they were doing them in the first place. That's what I would say to begin with. This is the time. Audrey we see that, like I said, with a lot of our clients - the customer behavior has just changed because of COVID.

Audrey: Totally. Sean, you just touched on a lot of things. One of them that I wanted to point out is that journey mapping takes on a lot of different names. We use different words for it, so it could be "touchpoint mapping," it could be "journey mapping..." I think "moments of truth" makes the most sense. It doesn't have to be this big complicated thing like you mentioned. You are the expert in your company - you know where your customers are having interactions with your company, and you know what's important. If you can identify those main interactions and prioritize them, that's where you have to spend your time. So it's not a bad idea to have a full customer journey map with, you know, a big complicated diagram... but when it boils down, the most important parts are those main touchpoints where customers have their "moments of truth" and could experience pain. And I think what you said about COVID is really true. COVID changed everything about how people interact. It's not that all of the touchpoints are gone, but they may not be as high in the priority list as they were before. I think digital has taken on a whole new meaning as far as how customers interact with companies, and a lot of times it's going to be digital first, so you need to prioritize digital in your customer journey map or touchpoint or that moment of truth.

Sean: Yeah exactly, Audrey. I think now is it is a great time to think about what is the journey today and what will the journey be when, you know, people are vaccinated and the world kind of gets back to semi-normal, whatever that is, in the future, right? And what kind of experiences and what kind of interactions will your customers expect to have with your company in this new world? Will it revert back to February 2020? No. It's just not going to. Will it be exactly like it was in August 2020? Probably not either, right? So digital, like Audrey said, is here to stay. Hybrid experiences are probably coming where, you know, people are used to now interacting with you digitally on a website or on an app, but maybe they do want to enter into a store along with that digital experience. So you're going to want to start to map out a couple of different scenarios, I think, and then test them when these times come true on, you know, where you see your customers interactions going. And the reason why we're saying this is, if you can identify a "moment of truth" or "moments of truth" with your customers, then you can do something about it to make sure they go right every time, right Audrey? Like if we can identify one or two of those where they're must haves - they must go well - then you can do something, right? We can help them.

Audrey: Absolutely, yeah - and I think what you said about change really makes sense. I mean, 2020 was a year of near constant change, but I don't think that we're settled yet. I think things are definitely going to change again, and that means you have to be willing to evolve your program with the changing needs of your customers. And Sean, you mentioned hybrid experiences - I think those have sort of bubbled up to
the top of the way customers are interacting more recently, but I think that probably is here to stay. I know a lot of people are using curbside pickup now, and so that's a digital experience first, where you're shopping online, you're finishing a purchase, and then you're actually physically going to the store but staying in your car or waiting outside and having your package brought out to you. And so curbside pickup is a new touchpoint that maybe some places were doing before, but I think is a lot more important than it used to be.

Sean: And remember, the key to a great customer experience is consistency across all key moments of truth - so it's not okay to say, "well, we're great digitally and the customer will have a great experience there and that's what we focus on, but curbside is just going to be okay..." The customer won't think that way. They'll want to see a consistent experience across the major touchpoints. It doesn't mean you have to be great at everything, but you have to be great at the things that matter most to your customers.

Audrey: Yeah, and I think you'll know what those are. That's what you don't have to go hire a company to tell you what they are. If you look at your business and understand where your customers are interacting, you should have a very good feeling about where those "moments of truth" are happening. You know, if I placed an order online and the digital experience was seamless, and then I go to the curbside pickup and they can't find my order or I have to wait too long or whatever could happen that is going to be a "moment of truth" for me where I might turn around and say "this is a horrible experience, I don't want to do business with this place again," or I might turn around and leave negative reviews on social sites. You know, we can identify some moments of truth just talking. Like a curbside pickup, or in hospitality if you go into a hotel room and it's not clean - that's going to be a moment of truth for somebody. You know, we could do that with our own customers too, but that's why I'm saying you probably already know what they are, you just need to make sure that the ones that you're thinking about are still valid, and make sure that you're evolving with how your customers interact with you.

Sean: If you wanted a refresh, right, if you feel like the experience has changed so much because of COVID and you want to take another look, one thing that I would always recommend is mystery shop your own company. Be a customer of your own company, you know? Go buy something and pick it up, or go visit a hotel and check in, or, you know, whatever your business is - be your customer for a day or two or more, and then you'll really get a good idea of what those new touchpoints might be and "moments of truth" might be in today's world. Now for some companies, obviously, that's tough - if it's a B2B company or something like that - but if you're a consumer company, you can mystery shop yourself and get a really good idea of what those touchpoints are.

Audrey: Yeah, I think that's great advice.

Madeline: I want to hear more from you both about what the
advantages are of doing a touchpoint mapping exercise in the way that you're talking about, where you know your business well - just saying or having a meeting or zoom call with your team about what those "moments of truth" are versus doing this lengthier, longer hiring of a consultant and doing a big customer journey map?

Sean: Yeah, I mean it seems to me that as a result of a lot of journey map consulting engagements, it's a really pretty map with a lot of lines and colors, right? And they are, I mean they're useful - and they're going through a lot of different like what emotions are the customers going to feel at each touchpoint and getting really really granular... There is a time and place for it -  I don't want to say that it's not valuable - but for most companies, and if you're a head of CX, you know, your job in most cases is to make sure that your customers have great experiences at major touchpoints. That's at least what I would argue it be, and manage those interactions obsessively. You know, you and your team can have a really good, I would call, "touchpoint map" done in a day if you sit there and just walk through what your customer - from the beginning when they find out about you, to the time they purchase, to the time they receive support, and then renew if that's your business - like what are all the touchpoints that they possibly could have with you, and you know, put yourself in your customer's shoes. Feel the pain if one of these don't go well, right? And if you feel like a knot in the bottom of your stomach, that's probably a moment of truth.

Madeline: That's a great way to define the "moment of truth" -  that knot in your stomach.

Sean: If it goes poorly, yes.

Madeline: Yes, butterflies if it goes well.

Sean: Yes - and happiness and joy.

Madeline: So when we're going through these exercises, what's a good way to figure out... Let's say I've picked out with my team five or six "moments of truth" within my customer journey... What's a good way for me to pick the one to focus on first if we're just kind of starting to take a new look at our journey and what we want to measure?

Audrey: I mean, I think you really have to prioritize. So the biggest thing is - which one is a moment of truth that if it fails - if it doesn't go well and the customer gets that knot in their stomach - means they're not going to return, they're not going to be a repeat customer? And think I could do a restaurant online ordering for example - there's a couple moments of truth there, that if they don't work, I'm gonna go to another restaurant. So if my online order... if I can't get it to go through, I'm gonna turn around and go somewhere else. That's a really big moment of truth. And then it's either the delivery or the pickup - how does that go? And then the actual food itself. And so those are three touchpoints or "moments of truth" in just a simple, "I'm ordering dinner," that are important.  And you know there's more in there, but I think if you look at all of them - if you lay them out - you do that exercise and you say, "I have five, but these three are really important and I want to focus on one of these three to get started..." - it's not to say that those other subtle
touchpoints aren't important - it's just that you need to focus on the big ones first and make sure that you're providing a seamless experience there and and gather the feedback and improve that  first before you focus on all those other little things in that beautiful journey map.

Sean: And the other thing you obviously can do, and should do, is once you've identified those "moments of truth," set up the listening posts to understand what the experience is that the customer has every single time - and if it doesn't go well, how do you follow up with that customer? And you know, that gets into what we do a lot for our clients, but by doing that, you can save lost customers over and over again - and then more importantly, change that experience for that touchpoint and hopefully that makes future experiences much better.

Audrey: Yeah, we're definitely telling you to listen, but it's almost only half of the battle - after you're listening, you need to follow up. What are you doing with the data that you get with the voice of your customer?-Sean, it's like the name of your book - Listen or Die - you have to listen. If you're not listening, you have a huge problem. But once you have the data and the information, you have to do something with it.

Madeline: Do you follow up after a certain amount of time? Is it like after a month, or are you doing it quarterly, or how does that follow-up process work?

Audrey: So I would recommend continuous listening. So you should be surveying customers after every transactional experience, and then you should be following up with individual survey respondents - individual people who respond and say, "Hey I had an issue." You should be responding to them as quickly as possible - same day, next day, very soon - and closing the loop - seeing what you can do to make their experience better. If you can solve their problem,
and then you need to look at the data in aggregate and say,
"you know what, it looks like we're having a lot of problems with the online ordering - we need to do something about that," And you could be looking at that data monthly or quarterly depending on how many responses you have to figure out where to target your attention and make changes to make improvements.

Sean: So Audrey, we help a lot of clients with their touchpoints and identifying moments of truth, right? So let's just talk about some of the big areas that moments of truth tend to fall into. And the way I like to think of it is - you have moments of truth that are digital, and they're becoming more and more prevalent across every industry, right? Digital could mean website, it could mean app, it could mean something on the phone, you know - it's something to do with a digital interaction. Then of course, you do have human interactions -those are often moments of truth when they happen. You know, going to a store or having someone come into your home to offer field services or something like that - that's definitely moments of truth. And then there's still the old-fashioned, you know, calling. There's some sort of human interaction on the phone - not face-to-face. And support could be on all of those... So support is another huge area, but now we have digital support, as we know, we certainly have in-person support, and then we have phone support. You know, we do a lot of work with banks, so maybe banks is a good example because there's moments of truth in all of those, right, for banking clients?

Audrey: Yeah, absolutely.

Sean: And so why don't you talk a little bit about, you know, thinking about it that way, and where are some of the more important moments of truth that you've seen with some of our clients?

Audrey: Yeah, so the retail banking experience - going into the actual physical bank and interacting with the teller - has always been a moment of truth for our banking clients. And not to say that it's not, but they have shifted some of their focus to online interactions now because they're trying to keep people safe - they don't want people standing in line at the bank, so they're asking their customers to use their online banking tools more often, and so that touchpoint has really become a "moment of truth." If I am using the online system to complete some kind of transaction, it has to work - it has to be seamless - and if it doesn't, it's a moment of truth and I might not have the option of going into the physical bank to solve the problem. So a lot of focus has changed over the last year in how banks are listening to their customers and where they're paying attention most.

Sean: You know, a good example of that, Audrey, is, you know, back in the day, before February 2020, people would go to a bank to deposit checks or maybe go to an ATM to put them in - now mobile deposit is all the rage, right? But if that does not go well, what happens after that? It results in a support call, which is extremely important to many many customers... Then that interaction starts getting expensive quick for the company.

Audrey: Yeah, and if I'm a customer with repeated issues with an online banking system, I'm going to look to other banks. That's not something that I think people have a lot of patience for, and that's why it's so imperative that the bank knows what's going on - that their system works, that they're listening when it doesn't, and they're able to follow up with customers who have problems.

Sean: So let me give a hint, a little secret, to everybody here about a moment of truth. If you're supporting customers in any way, that's probably one of your moments of truth. Like your main support vehicle, right? And we do a lot of work for companies, right, around that one moment of truth - whether they're, you know, whether they're calling the call center, or whether they're getting service in person, and even now, there's a lot more "chat" type digital customer service that's being offered because of COVID... and that's one that, you know, I would always recommend honing in on if you're doing your mapping - make sure you're mapping out the support experience in every way possible. You know, hiding phone numbers from customers on websites is not a good feeling. That's going away fortunately with online chats, but we can comment on that, Audrey, about why that's so important to our clients.

Audrey: Yeah, I mean almost every industry has some type of support. Customers have questions. They need to be able to get answers to them. We're seeing a lot more of the chat experience for support versus calling a live person or getting stuck in a phone tree, which I think customers like, except when it fails. And then it's really a moment of truth that - "hey, you have this thing, but it doesn't work... I didn't get what I needed... I got stuck waiting..." - whatever it might be... And then they go on to the next level of support. So if you try the chat and then they do a phone call and they don't get a person, or they have problems with that, it's even more impactful as a moment of truth.

Sean: Yeah, because remember - no company's perfect, and customers always have questions, issues, problems... It's not about that, it's about how do you respond to those customer questions, issues and problems? And after that support call, is that customer one that's giving you an NPS score of 9 or 10, or are they giving you an NPS score of 4 or 5 - that's the big question. Because, you know the old saying in CX, customer experience, is why don't we just create a lot of problems and solve them because customers are more loyal after a problem itself than before? And that's kind of like... that's sort of a half joke, but it's true - like if you're able to solve a customer problem, they tend to be much more loyal to you than before. But you have to measure that. If you're not measuring and taking action on it like Audrey was saying earlier... we're talking about action after an individual experience did not meet some sort of expectation - so that's usually, you know, an NPS score that's a detractor, they indicated they had a problem, their overall satisfaction on the experience was low... Those are things that should trigger in a moment of truth an immediate and swift action and contact to that customer. And if you're in B2B, then that's absolutely a thousand times more important. But I would argue even in B2C,  given lifetime value of customers, that's super important there too.

Madeline: I think it's also important to think about... You know, Sean, you were saying "putting yourself into your customers' shoes" - but if you're asking customers about their experience and they're telling you about it, chances are they're expecting you as a company to follow up with them if there is a bad experience. You know, if I go and eat at a restaurant, and say there was, I don't know, a hair in my food or something - I'm expecting somebody to reach out to me, or, you know, I'll not feel great as a customer if that just goes "into the abyss" in my in my eyes.

Audrey: I was going to say that moments of truth are not always negative too. I think we focus a lot on the negative, but a moment of truth could solidify someone's positive opinion of your business and it could turn into positive word-of-mouth, so it's just as much of an opportunity to do a great job and really impress someone - have them have a stellar seamless experience that they want to share with friends and colleagues - as it is that if there was a problem. You need to know about it.

Sean: You know, that's such a great point, Audrey. So on most of our surveys with our clients, we ask a question that's something like this: "Did anyone go out of their way to wow you or provide an exceptional experience, or go above-and-beyond?" And if people say "Yes," we ask them who was that and what did they do? And you know, 9 out of 10 times, that's around a moment of truth that a person at your company - an employee - did something for a customer that was unexpected or went beyond. They remembered it so much that they wanted to share it in this survey. And then we of course encourage our clients to share that feedback with that person, that employee, because it sort of reinforces being a customer-centric culture when you're sharing customer feedback with people who are delivering it in a great way.

Madeline: And you can use that information too to also copy that behavior of that person in other branches if you're a bank, or, you know, different areas of your business... To say, "Oh, well we love what Rosalie was doing at this branch, we should have people do it at all these other ones too," and that should improve the experience.

Sean: And we should hire more people like her. And you know, how do we do that... it's like there's many different ways that you can use customer feedback to really sharpen your business and make it more customer centric.

Madeline: I'm going to jump into a question before we sign off here - can you tell us what is the fastest, most inexpensive way to do this kind of exercise of touchpoint mapping if I want to get started and start measuring ASAP?

Sean: Yeah, I touched on it before - it's get your team in a room or in a Zoom and walk through every possible interaction your customer has with your company, and you know, start writing down those interactions one by one, and I would classify them by digital, in-person and telephone, or call - like that's a good framework to begin. That's if you're really - if you know what the experience is... If you don't, my mystery shop suggestion is one that I would do - like just be a customer and and go through it, and then have a problem and call support, or try to contact support on chat - and understand exactly what your customer is going through. Those are two quick ways to  think get this done in a way... and you get a lot out of both of those methods, I believe.

Madeline: Definitely. And that "moment of truth" we can bring back to the feeling in your stomach, right - or we can equivalate that to pain, right? Your customers' pain if that's a large pain point for them, you can assume that is a moment of truth. And I think it's also worth mentioning that, I think Audrey, you mentioned this before - that of course it's important to measure all parts of the customer journey, but if you are starting or re-mapping it as we're going into
2021 with more uncertainty on the way, to look at those moments of truth first and prioritize those before you work through the rest of your customer journey.

Sean: Here's an example of that, right? So moments of truth are all about emotional connection, as I put it before. And when you have a good emotional connection with a customer, the customer is going to feel great, elated, special... When it doesn't happen, they're going to feel a lot of pain and disappointment. Here's a moment of truth for hotels. If you ever travel with family and you check into a hotel and they tell you that they have a rollaway bed for your kid and you call them and you go to the room and it's already there, you feel elated. You feel like they understood you. You feel emotionally connected. When you go to that room and it's not there, you call them and maybe they do bring it up right away and you still feel good. Or they tell you it's gonna be another hundred dollars. You feel... what do you feel then? You feel like this pit in your stomach. You feel like your family's not taken care of. That's a good... like go through those types of scenarios. It's an example that anybody who's traveled with family will understand - because we just can't get three rooms for everyone, right? You have to be in the same room, right? Every once in a while, or every time. So you can understand that right, Audrey?

Audrey: Absolutely, yes. I think the other thing that you can do is you can rule some of the interactions out, and those are the ones where there's limited pain, there's limited emotional connection for your customers, they're going to get over it quickly... Those are the things that you don't need to focus on, at least in the beginning. It's the things that are going to make you feel elated or have that pit in your stomach that are super important.

Sean: And anything in your brand promise is probably going to be a moment of truth. If you're promising something to a customer and you're differentiating via that promise... You know, if you're differentiating on convenience or you're differentiating on value or you're differentiating on, you know, quality - whatever it is - you must be measuring that, and that should be part of the journey. It's a moment of truth - or more than one, probably, in the journey, right? So that would be my other suggestion is... make sure that your experience aligns with your marketing and identify moments of truth from your marketing that you're promising your customer.

Madeline: That was a great point, Sean - and a great way to to end this session. You know, thinking about those individual touchpoints but also overall - what are customers thinking about in terms of your marketing as they're interacting with your entire brand throughout the journey? This has been such a great session, guys. Thank you so much for your time and expertise. And on behalf of everyone here at PeopleMetrics, thank YOU for joining us for PeopleMetrics LIVE!

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Posted on 01-21-2021