“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looking down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;”
-Robert Frost, from his poem “The Road Not Taken
When Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken” in the early 1900s, he certainly wasn’t thinking about customer touchpoints or journeys. Yet, I can’t help but wonder what a journey map of his experience would look like.
I’ll admit, it is ridiculous to think that one could map out someone’s life experience. But let’s use our imaginations for a moment and think about this scene in terms of today’s business world. Say you’re a bank, and Mr. Frost is trying to determine what path to take to apply for a loan. What paths are available to reach that destination? What touchpoints (i.e. customer interactions) would he encounter along each path? In what order would he encounter the touchpoints, and how important is it to know this order?
Understanding your organizations’ Touchpoint Paths (the sequence of touchpoints your prospects or customers encounter as they travel through your company’s life cycle stages) is an important component of your broad customer experience management program. However, Touchpoint Paths can be slippery territory, so we’d like to add a word of caution here and offer up some food for thought for how best to tackle touchpoint pathing.
Touchpoint Paths – Slippery Territory
For those of you who are familiar with the Touchpoint Dashboard touchpoint mapping platform, you know that reinventing the diagramming tool market was not our primary. We wanted the initial focus of Touchpoint Dashboard and your mapping projects to be on the touchpoints themselves – the “meat” of any mapping and pathing project.
Here’s why. It would be a cumbersome and potentially counterproductive process to try to plot out a step-by-step touchpoint sequence for every hypothetical path a customer might take. There could be dozens of touchpoint paths, and each path could have countless variations. It would be nearly impossible to sequentially and accurately account for all of them.
Think about an “applying for a loan” scenario. The path I choose might lead me to encounter only three touchpoints on my loan application journey, someone else might encounter seven, and another person 12 or more.
As I stated earlier, I don’t want to discount the importance of pathing; it certainly has its place. But what I want the takeaway to be here is that when embarking on a customer journey mapping project, please resist the temptation to dive right into pathing. There are so many other more important things that need to be done first like:
- Creating a touchpoint inventory and classifying and mapping them by lifecycle stage, channel and “owner”
- Analyzing and scoring the touchpoints using your VoC and employee interview data
- Sharing your findings and getting everyone on the same page
For your reference we’ve outlined these “firsts” in many of our posts (like the “Cooking Up a Winning Journey Map” series.
Touchpoints First, Then Proceed to Pathing
AFTER you’ve tackled the “firsts” and have the necessary touchpoint data in place, creating touchpoint paths is a logical next step. It can be a great way to visualize a customer’s journey and understand how well the touchpoints in a path are serving to guide and motivate travel and decision making.
If done correctly, pathing can be an effective tool to help you fine-tune your customer experience, achieve more conversions, a quicker sale cycle and increased loyalty and advocacy.
Telling Your Customer Story through Pathing
For our clients who are interested in creating paths as a subset of their overall map, we have a great feature called “Touchpoints as Slides.” This feature enables you to create and tell as many paths as you want (we refer to them as Stories). You can view these stories one touchpoint at a time or in its entirety as a presentation. You can also choose which touchpoints should appear in your story and in what sequence they should appear.
In addition, the screenshot below illustrates another way you can view a customer micro-journey (scenario) in Touchpoint Dashboard. We used our “apply for a loan” example to create a view of a hypothetical path a customer might take. You can see the touchpoints themselves are arranged in a sequential order, and this view also includes a “story”, which when activated, will display these touchpoints in a slide format in the same order.
Finally, stay tuned for announcements regarding our future plans on this topic. While he have shown you some present-day methods for addressing the concept of touchpoint paths, we have development plans that include using animated flows to take our capabilities to a new level!