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customer journey framework

[Framework] Modeling cross-functional customer journeys

In today’s hyper-digital, hyper-connected world, the standards for good customer experience are extremely high. Yet, most customer journeys are broken and far from delightful. 

Customers have to swim long and hard through torrents of interfaces and interactions – across channels – to get straightforward goals accomplished. Imagine going through eight touchpoints during what should be a simple nurture process. The result is a frustrated customer and a poor customer experience. 

As customer experience shrugs into a post-pandemic identity, how can CX leaders map and design journeys that pay heed to customer needs and deliver delight? Freshworks experts weigh in.

Beyond funnel: Thinking in loops

To orchestrate meaningful and delightful experiences, customer journeys need to stand on the firm legs of customer needs, goals, and emotions. Leaning into customer feedback, collected as NPS data or qualitative surveys, helps. The more situational the feedback, the better. 

Indeed, feedback by itself does not move the needle. Only when synthesized into a high-level narrative that underscores key impact areas, mapping a path to a desirable (and feasible) journey becomes clearer. 

Here, while it’s tempting to simply focus on the “path to purchase” – touchpoints that push someone towards conversion – CX leaders would be well advised to cast their attention to mapping and optimizing for the larger journey, one that factors in decisions, pivots, and interactions that happen after a purchase or conversion instance, and then some. After all, nurturing a long-lasting relationship is the axis along which retention, lifetime value, and loyalty are ensured.

Retaining an existing customer is up to 25 times cheaper than acquiring a new one.

Today, ambient experience components that stretch the length of awareness, pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase stages of a customer’s [lifetime] journey are best modeled around an infinity loop as opposed to the traditional upside-down funnel or pyramid.

Building integrated, engagement-oriented journeys

In this omnichannel age, based on what is essential and urgent, customers will enter into a journey from any touchpoint and navigate a path to “need-resolution” that may not fit the standard linear model of journey design. A prospect may enter directly at the purchase stage on the back of a referral or an existing customer may go all the way back to research if they are looking for an altogether different solution.

A more optimal approach to journey mapping, design, and delivery, in this case, would be to build around intent with engagement as the goal, not transactions. 

Building journeys for engagement is a principle that rests on the belief that provided sufficient support, affordances, and stimulation, customers can be persuaded towards desired outcomes across different stages – discovery, persuasion, and usage. Transactions will happen from sufficient, prolific stimulation over time. Applied, this journey mapping and design model allows CX leaders to build much clearer links between costs and returns. 

A simple model of engagement-oriented customer journey 

Pared down to its elements, the buyer, their circumstances, and their goals form the main components of any custom journey blueprint.

 

Source: NNGroup.com

The assumption, for the sake of this piece, is that irrespective of where a buyer enters into the journey, they are likely to move forward from that point onward, from one phase to the next. Depending on the segment you are implementing for – an individual creator, a small business owner, or a large enterprise – journey-related opportunities and ownership become clear. 

Applied to common intent stages – consideration, product usage, and renewal – this framework guides you on how to map buyer motivations to actions, features, and teams for optimal engagement and forward momentum while factoring in opportunities for and barriers to engagement. 

Note: This framework holds for most B2B and B2C scenarios. 

Phase 1: Discovery to Pre-purchase

During a customer’s discovery process, creating visibility for the brand, and the product is pivotal. Ensuring a consistent, on-brand experience is critical at this stage.

Phase 2: Onboarding and value realization

Since the sole focus after purchase (or signing up for a product trial) is to help customers realize value, it starts with mapping a journey that stimulates usage and adoption. Removing barriers to usage, adoption, and integration are critical for ensuring high levels of engagement at this stage. 

Phase 3: Adoption and retention

At this stage in the life cycle, the goal is to ensure customers continue to derive value from the product and business services. For, their decision to renew (or upgrade) hinges on product experience, quality of support, perception of value, and more. Communicating value and investing in relationship building are key drivers of engagement at this stage.

Bringing it together: Marshaling teams towards a ‘North Star Metric’

“A big part of the CX team’s responsibility is to analyze every touchpoint that a customer has at every interaction they have — or could have — with any part of the journey they experience when doing business with the company.”

Shep Hyken, customer service, and experience expert and author

Mapping intent to relevant brand (and product/service) touchpoints is the next step. Optimal engagement at each stage of the customer journey rests on your ability to match intent and touchpoints well. 

Consequently, bringing the right teams together for implementation is essential. 

CX Accountability model

Typically, B2B organizations lean into one of these three approaches to orchestrate customer journey delivery:

DecentralizedCentralizedMixed
Accountability belongs to each unique business unit. Accountability belongs to a single team. Accountability is shared between a centralized team dedicated to the CX program and other business units.

Sharing CX responsibilities across business units and the C-suite while maintaining a central journey management team at the organization level allows you to experience the advantages of both decentralized and centralized models of decision-making.

2020 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report, NTT Group

Ideally, any customer journey management team must have a strong background in strategy, marketing, operations, sales, customer service, and customer success. And for good reason—this team is responsible for championing and communicating the CX strategy to all the functional teams. Some of the key responsibilities and expected outcomes from a core journey management team include: 

  • Gaining an understanding of customers through surveys, persona research, discovery calls, and more.
  • Consolidating and analyzing customer feedback
  • Identifying the right metrics to track against desired outcomes
  • Ensuring that a “customer-first” approach is ingrained in all decisions and designs
  • Developing an org-wide strategy to achieve the desired and intended customer experience

To identify ownership and handoffs, start by mapping out the teams responsible for the right outcomes at each stage and touchpoint, determining the key metrics they will be accountable for. 

During Discovery Phase
During Onboarding Phase
During Renewal Phase

Journey-aligned cross-functional teams

Typically, task handoffs between different teams that contribute to and impact a journey across the lifecycle of a customer look as illustrated below:

A hub-and-spoke structure, while straightforward, works well when implementing end-to-end journeys. When spokes can act with autonomy, while strategy, data, and technology investments stay aligned centrally, handoffs happen far more smoothly. Here, having a dedicated CX leader who can own the mandate and assume the role of journey architect is key. 


Digital transformation is never easy. Transformation with the aim of elevating customer experience is even more challenging and rife with complexity. It requires an intentional reimagining of the business model around the role it plays in the life of a customer. A commitment to doing the right things for the customers demands budgeting for extensive outside-in research and taking a hard look at customer feedback, rather than simply automating a couple of processes here and there and assuming success. 

With the engagement-centered approach, you not only build a journey around customer motivations and intent, but you also occupy a position from where you can scale a single journey to an atlas of more far-reaching, deeply integrated journeys that span different channels and stages yet remain rooted in a firm customer intent. 

Case study: Delivery Hero

Berlin-based Delivery Hero, the online food delivery unicorn, has consistently led with a singular mandate: delivering amazing customer experiences. 

A Freshworks customer

In order to do so, they started out by asking an important question: “How do we figure out what’s important to our customers?” To answer this in-depth, they assembled a Global Customer Experience team whose primary objective was to listen to customers, vendors, and riders and determine opportunities for impact.

Understanding the journey from a customer’s point of view was the first order of things—especially their motivations and emotions at every stage of their interaction with the brand. From there, the team designed journey maps for all stakeholders, from end users to restaurants and delivery partners. Once the touchpoints and channels for interaction were clear, they got down to gathering feedback on the kinds of improvements that would be required to elevate a customer’s experience. 

Our team is focused on the goal of embedding the customer-centric thought of ‘Will that improve our customer’s experience such that they return to the platform more and for longer?’ into every business decision.

Global CX team, Delivery Hero

Delivery Hero leaned on Net Promoter Score (NPS) feedback to determine success. With statistical analytics tools integrated within the platform, they were able to dive deep into their NPS results and understand facets of the customer journey that were working and weren’t, including opportunities for closing the loop. In just one year of implementation, Delivery Hero’s CSAT increased by 30%. 

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