Maps and Legends: Using Customer Journey Mapping To Manage The Customer Experience

Customer journey mapping is a hot topic for the leaders of franchise organizations. Why now? For one reason, because customers connect with us and we connect with them in ways that were not imagined 10 years ago: through Groupon, social networking, smartphones, and online reservations and ordering. We must manage these new developments in addition to providing a superior customer experience inside the four walls, which is more important than ever before.

Customer point of view

There are so many customer touchpoints through various channels and at different stages in the customer lifecycle that you almost have to see what's happening to really wrap your mind around all the ways customers perceive your brand today. Thus the rise of customer journey mapping. The purpose of developing a customer journey map is to help franchisors document visually all the possible ways customers are engaged with your brand at each stage of your customer development process: 1) attraction, 2) interaction, and 3) cultivation.

When you break the customer journey down this way, it is crucial to "walk a mile" in your customer's shoes. By taking the customer's point of view you can more accurately understand your true competitive position--the same way successful franchise brands now use Voice of the Customer systems to understand reality, which is the customer perception. Customer journey mapping expands this approach of looking at your business through the eyes of the customer to discover new ways to build brand equity and drive sales growth.

Customer personas

There are multiple versions of "the" customer, depending on their goals and skills, as well as their circumstances and behavior patterns. A 16-year-old boy with his high school basketball team out for a celebration at CiCi's wants something different from his experience than a single mom out for dinner with her young children at CiCi's. Customer journey mapping includes the development of different customer personas and customer experience scenarios. That leads to improved customer experience design for the types of customers being sought.

On stage and back stage

In considering the customer journey from end to end, how do you ensure execution, both on stage and back stage? Most companies develop service expectations for employees and performance standards that enable consistent on-stage processes; that's what customers see happening. By mapping back-stage processes, franchise systems can identify the crucial enablers that influence the customer experience--processes like employee selection, applications for scheduling labor, integrated ordering/inventory management systems, and real-time access to customer satisfaction data and authentic customer comments.

Sample customer journey map

The graphic incorporates the customer point of view, customer personas, and on-stage and back-stage enablers.

The customer experience is more complex than ever. There are considerably more touchpoints we are just learning how to manage. (A cynic might say more chances to fail the customer.)

Without a clear understanding of the customer journey, you can be left flying blind. A customer journey map adds clarity by creating a comprehensive and illustrated model that can unlock hidden insights that inform a winning strategy.

SMG Chief Evangelist, Jack Mackey, CFE, helps companies transform the customer experience. To request more information on Customer Journey Mapping, contact him at

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