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Why mapping is the key to good customer experience

The nonsense of not managing customer experience.

We all know that managing the customer experience is crucial for the success of brand and your business

But in the world of siloed expertise, companies struggle to even start to solve these issues collectively.  

Leaders who care have to stop blaming complexity and lack of authority – and take it on.

The easiest way of making it happen is through a single, simple, lo-fi, map.

Five years on from sitting with the CEO and marketing team of Skype figuring out how best to focus a siloed organisation on the user experience, even IBM tells us that marketers are still poorly equipped to manage the customer experience.  

I recently spoke with 20 marketing and sales directors and they tell a common story. 

“I know it’s important [managing the whole experience] but it’s just too hard getting all the data and people to focus”. 

They feel they can only manage patches of the experience and they’ve put trying to manage the entire customer experience in the ‘important but way too difficult’ box.

It’s easy to see why, the challenges are political often beyond mandate: organisational structures and processes, channel complexity, systems integration, data issues, culture, leadership apathy, ROI mechanics…the list is endless but if you value your brand you must start somewhere.  

My advice is start simple, keep the thinking high level, be action orientated and trust in your colleagues to do the right thing for customers.  Once you start talking about these issues you’ll find big philosophical battles get exposed and untangled which allows the individual departments to manage the details.    

The start point is to put the customer experience on one page:  a simple map of the customer journey to show performance.  


This one map showed us where performance was good or bad.  It allowed us to explore geographic and segment differences. It highlighted the failures within and between departments that needed to be resolved.  It let us interrogate where to invest, disinvest and differentiate.  This one map was versatile enough to cope with both big and small data.

But most importantly, this map allowed the silos to think as one, talk as one and set goals as one.  

My learning is that to achieve this, the first iteration must be simple enough to provide cut through and get people talking about how they can improve the experience and the map. I’ve seen numerous maps that are all too complex, trying to answer everything to every degree of detail, they fail.   

Simplicity and transparency are powerful tools and a little lift of our heads from the detail allows us to see, and make sense of, the bigger picture.

When the bigger picture is exposed colleagues understand each other better. Using this very simple tool helps knock holes through siloes, it helps de-freeze the blame game and fosters inter-departmental interactions (as most failures occur in handovers between departments.)  

And because optimal customer experience is the goal (not a great one as payback deteriorates as you gild the lily) – the resourcing decisions about what to target can be collectively agreed.  And in our experience, when that happens it encourages resource sharing between departments.  No one, especially a department head, wants to be seen to be letting the side down.  Share the experience performance on a page and everyone can clearly see who is delivering and who is not. Embarrassment motivates.

So if you find yourself thinking – managing the whole customer experience is just too hard or I don’t have the authority or the data – try and map it on a page and you’ll find the treasure that a well-managed customer experience can deliver.  

Illustration by Vivian Yang. 

Charlie Stott is Strategy & Business Development Director at Wolff Olins London.