You know that developing a customer journey map is vital in today's customer-centric world, but let's revisit what a customer journey map really means for your business.

It means that you understand your customers' interactions with your business. It means you know their preferred touchpoints and channels across the entire experience, from first contact through usage to potential repurchase or a new purchase.

It means that you can clearly depict, from a customer-centric perspective, the steps your customers take when engaging with your company.

Clearly, developing a customer journey map is beneficial to your business. So you do the work. You successfully complete your customer journey map. Congratulations!

But how do you ensure that all of your work in mapping the customer journey will be properly implemented within your organization? You make the construct of your map's intangible attributes come to life through operationalization.

What does it mean to operationalize your map?

To operationalize something means to set down exact definitions for each variable and to also establish clear definitions for your processes. In addition, it requires you devise appropriate methods of measure so you can capture meaningful data that's needed to continue to increase the quality of your results.

This work entails what is known as standardization. You need a standard workflow to support a systematic approach to your measurements. That is the only way to ensure that you can consistently report on your customer journey process's (for that matter, any process's) ability to meet business priorities.

The key to success is to be clear about why you created the process in the first place. Why did you map your customers' journey? Did you create the map to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your demand-generation efforts? Or maybe you created it to reduce your sales cycle, improve customer retention, increase renewal rates, and/or increase your share of wallet or attach rates?

Whatever your reasons, your operationalization efforts must exist within the context of creating and measuring the changes in your workflow associated with the business outcome you are addressing.

How do you make intangible results tangible?

To operationalize your customer journey map, you will need to address both measures and workflow. Let's explore each.

Measure to Operationalize

The measures for your customer journey map should serve to validate the customer journey process; reinforce strategic, tactical, and investment decisions; and set up your organization for the next set of customer-retention initiatives.

To fulfill those requirements, establish measures for these three questions:

  1. How will you know you achieved the intended purpose of the map?
  2. What will indicate that you have become more effective at each stage of the map?
  3. What efficiencies can be derived from operationalizing your processes?

As with all data-driven questions, the data you collect must be reliable if you want to be able to derive both meaningful and actionable insights from you analysis. To use your data advantageously and make the necessary adjustments to your performance targets, you need to design the supporting workflow.

Workflow Brings the Process to Life

The process is mapped and you've identified the implications of the changes to your current strategies. You know what you need to do differently to better engage customers at each stage and move them onto the next one. You've secured buy-in from the all of the stakeholders. You've documented the process, established your measurements, and trained your personnel. Now you need to ensure that the new process will become the established procedure for making decisions and completing tasks.

Guaranteeing that your carefully orchestrated customer journey map will be consistently employed requires what is known as workflow. Develop the workflow so that each progressive step that comprises the customer's journey will produce a desired business outcome. That means you will need to define the procedures, people, and tools involved in each step. Define at least the following:

  • What is each step and how will it aid the customer journey process?
  • Who is going to do which step?
  • How is the step to be completed?
  • How is completion defined and measured?
  • Why are employees doing what they've been asked to do?

Once you have the workflow completed and you are able to answer the above questions, you will be able to…

  • Know who and what is contributing work to the process
  • Understand costs and workloads
  • More easily and collaboratively identify and resolve problems

* * *

By operationalizing your customer's journey map, you ensure that it translates into real life. Follow the steps above to improve the quality and consistency of your processes while showing that Marketing provides clear value to the business.

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How to Operationalize Your Customer Journey Map

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image of Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson is the president of VisionEdge Marketing. A pioneer in Marketing Performance Management, Laura has published four books and she has been recognized for her thought leadership, winning numerous industry awards.