Customer journey mapping is now the buzziest of buzz words. Every self-respecting marketing automation system offers something called a “customer journey map,” even if it’s exactly the same as last year’s campaign designer or does nothing more than connect functionless icons on a virtual whiteboard. Journey mapping is equally popular among agencies and consultants, although it also often is little more than a new label for the old sales funnel.
None of this affects me personally, but if I were a real customer experience expert I'd be annoyed at cartoon versions being presented as the real thing. Sophisticated journey mapping has been around for more than a decade*. It involves not just listing interactions or displaying them in a diagram, but also analyzing their contents, results, and supporting systems. Most customer experience teams have struggled to do this with spreadsheets, graphics programs, or generic flow charts. I’ve done it that way myself and, trust me, it’s painful.
suitecx is to static customer journey diagrams as Google Maps is to the Rand McNally Road Atlas: an interactive alternative with almost boundless functionality. Built by a team of customer experience veterans at the east bay group,** it’s clearly the system its designers always wanted but could never find elsewhere. The resulting sophistication makes it a bit scary at times, with more data crammed onto some screens than casual users can digest. But it also means the system is hugely flexible and will make serious users vastly more productive.
Customer journey mapping is just one feature within suitecx, which is sold as three modules: diagnosticcx to gather and organize customer experience information; visualizecx to display maps, findings, and recommendations; and precisioncx, which defines contact strategies and campaign flows.
The tool is designed around its own intended user journey. This would start in diagnosticcx, which collects information about a company’s business, customers, and processes using customer and employee surveys, interviews, and direct experience. The findings are organized into a list of customer interactions, which are classified by journey stage, channel, department, emotional outcome, segment, and other properties. The interactions are then linked to recommendations, which are themselves classified, prioritized on four dimensions (customer impact, company impact, cost, and feasibility), mapped onto a matrix, set on a timeline, and ultimately converted into detailed project plans.
visualcx supports the project by displaying the data in formats including story maps, process flows, interaction grids, a virtual wall with virtual sticky notes, and various summaries. The grids are automatically generated from the interaction list developed in diagosticcx or imported via spreadsheet. Grids can be filtered on different interaction attributes and users can drill into individual interactions to see the underlying details. The story maps and process flows are built manually, alas, but still use the same drillable interactions.
precisioncx completes the project by letting users design new customer experiences. These include over-all contact strategy and multi-step campaigns with segments, creative, triggers, metrics, and other attributes for each step. The system can’t execute the campaigns but an API is available that could export the campaign designs to execution systems.
Early versions of suitecx have been used by the east bay group in their own work for years. The commercial product was formally released in December 2014 and currently has about 20 paid clients for the major modules.
* the earliest reference I could find on Google was in a business school course syllabus from 2001. Apparently the term had already been around long enough by then to be picked up in academia.
** which seems to have an issue with capital letters.