The Customer Journey Framework

7 June 2017 09:14

(updated: 7 June 2017 09:28)

The Customer Journey Framework

Customer journey mapping have been taken up as a way of work in Telenor, to support the company in being customer-centric. Read new CSI blog by Ragnhild Halvorsud, Knut Kvale and Asbjørn Følstad

It started in 2007 as a response to the organization’s need to understand and measure the customers’ experiences with key services over time. Now, 10 years later, the approach has been adopted by business units across Telenor Group, and the work has resulted in a scientific article awarded for its contribution and impact on the service management field.

The average Brit spends more than one hour a day being annoyed by poor services, according to Melvin Brand Flu in Livework[1]. The more surprising fact is that most of these flawed service processes can be easily addressed by the service providers. A service encounter always results in an experience, regardless of how mundane the service may be. Research shows that investing resources in delivering problem-free services experiences is highly beneficial, as customer satisfaction strongly depends on the service process being experienced as smooth and efficient from the perspective of the customer. Customers can be satisfied simply by virtue of a trouble-free experience. However, service providers struggle to organize themselves to detect and eliminate flawed service processes, and few systematic approaches have been available to address these challenges.

Back in 2007, working with usability in Telenor Research, we were engaged by Telenor Norway to investigate a service process known to be very frustrating and complicated for the customers, leading to extra pressure on the call centers. On-boarding new customers on a fixed broadband internet line involved quite a number of touchpoint, some of which involved a human operator, and some of which were digital. Our analysis revealed that the biggest problems for the customers occurred across the sequence of touchpoints, and not within particular touchpoints.  Based on our study, managers responsible for different touchpoints were for the first time brought together to examine and optimize the customer journey. Building on the successful pilot study, we carried out several case studies. Iteratively we developed a new systematic approach called the Customer Journey Framework (CJF). It can be seen as a portrayal of service processes from the perspective of the customers, built around the least common denominator of the underlying service process. In addition, we developed a toolbox for Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) with step-by-step guidelines to analyze service experiences. The toolbox soon became popular and was adopted in most of Telenor's international markets.

CJM guidelines

While being quickly adopted by practitioners, introducing CJF to the academic arena was not straightforward. Academic researchers were familiar with customer journey as a metaphor more than as a clearly defined approach. Hence, when presenting CJF at service design conferences we experienced resistance to CJF's formalized approach with its definitions, attributes, and rules for visualization. It was therefore an important breakthrough when our paper about CJF was published in 2016 by Journal of Service Theory and Practice[2]. Recently the paper received the award Outstanding 

Paper of the Year[3] for its contribution and impact on the service management field. The paper can be downloaded for free here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/JSTP-05-2015-0111

CJF's process-oriented portrayal of service processes is particularly beneficial for standardized services that are repeated in high volumes. Some form of abstraction is inevitable when modeling a service. Service companies often conceptualize service delivery as customer journeys consisting of interconnected touchpoints. However, the granularity and constituents of each touchpoint are highly variable. In CJF, we define touchpoint as an instance of communication between a customer and a service provider, and each touchpoint is characterized by a set of measurable attributes. Describing a service process in terms of its common denominator promotes unambiguity in service characterization and brings rigor and formalism to customer journeys. It serves as a reference body, against which service execution can be measured.

CJF distinguishes between planned customer journeys and actual customer journeys. The planned or expected customer journey reflects the service process as it has been implemented in the company, regardless of whether it has been deliberately designed or evolved through an ad hoc approach. The actual journey is instantiated during execution of the service, as it unfolds in time for an individual customer.

Customer Journey Guidelines

Customer Journey Analysis is a tool for visualizing and analyzing how customers interact with a company across multiple channels and touchpoints. Illustration from Telenor CJM guidelines, by Ragnhild Halvorsrud and Knut Kvale.

 

Our scientific article provides a detailed walkthrough of case study results, and describes how these results encouraged transformative changes in the operative units across Telenor Group. To summarize from a business perspective, the Customer Journey Framework is:

  • a unifying language to ease communication and cross-departmental understanding;
  • an analytic approach to expose the gap between service delivery “theory” and “reality”; and
  • an effective approach for service improvement, cost reduction, and prevention of churn.

References

[1] http://test.liveworkstudio.com/the-customer-blah/stop-irritating-me/

[2] HALVORSRUD, R., KVALE, K. & FØLSTAD, A. 2016. Improving service quality through customer journey analysis. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 26, 840-867.

[3] http://emeraldgrouppublishing.com/authors/literati/
awards.htm?year=2017&journal=jstp

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