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Mark Riddle May 19, 2016

Improving the customer experience with journey mapping

Sometimes, a simple shift in perspective makes a big difference. That’s what banks are discovering when their contact centers utilize a method of analysis known as “customer journey mapping.” By looking at their internal processes from the customer’s point of view, these institutions are improving both contact center efficiency and customer satisfaction.

The practice of customer journey mapping emerged as a topic of great interest at the recent BAI Executive Roundtable: Contact Center, whose participants said they were shifting their focus from average handle times to first-contact resolution. During the discussion, participants said that customers want their problems resolved without having to talk to different representatives and without having to repeat themselves and that customer journey mapping aligns the priorities of both banks and customers. They also noted that if customers can easily accomplish their desired task through another channel, thanks to the design of the customer journey, they may not need to contact the bank’s call center at all, a concept called “containment.”

After the roundtable, we interviewed three members to elicit further discussion on how bank contact centers can implement customer journey mapping. Providence, R.I.-based Citizens Bank, for example, creates journey maps that illustrate the end-to-end customer experience with a bank product and include every customer touch point across all channels, says Peg Marty, executive vice president, head of contact center. “We think about the flow of the customer interaction, from purchase of product all the way through servicing and how the customer uses the product and also about the documents and interactions we have with the customer throughout their relationship with us.”

This method helps Citizens design processes and technology that have the right outcome for customers, says Marty. One example: Marty’s group works with strategy and design, marketing and other groups to think about which mobile application features would be most relevant to customers, and this cross-functional team reviews customer feedback to enhance functionality.

Empowering Employees
One benefit for Marty’s group is improved first contact resolution (FCR). “We think very differently about how we interact with our customers and have spent a lot of time enhancing our training and skill building,” she says. “Rather than thinking about processes or interactions in silos, we now focus on trying to empower people to do everything they can for the customer at the first point of contact.”

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo journey maps primarily to improve the customer experience, says Carmen Bell, senior vice president, head of customer contact and default decisioning for home lending. “When you look at something the bank may see as a simple task from the customer’s perspective, the opportunities to make it a simpler process can be truly eye-opening,” she says. For example, prior to one of their mapping exercises, Wells Fargo’s customers could view their mortgage payoff statements online, but they also wanted the option to print the statement from that screen. Instead, they had to request that a paper copy be mailed to them, a process that creates paper handling and postal costs. Now, customers can print the payoff statement online.

Containing these kinds of processes enhances the customer experience and frees up contact center employee time, according to Bell. “We can have frontline team members focused on even more value-added service because we’ve solved pain points that the customer then doesn’t need to engage with us on.”  

At USAA, based in San Antonio, Tex., journey mapping charts customers’ life events and how those relate to their banking needs, says Ryan Barth, who oversees the customer contact center in his role as vice president, banking and insurance solutions. “We want to understand our members’ day-to-day experiences and how we can leverage that data and information to create a better experience,” he says. For example, if a USAA customer calls the contact center because a toy store declined an attempted purchase with the company’s credit card, the Member Service Representative (MSR) can answer the phone with, “Are you calling because your card’s not working?”

“We have real-time capabilities that let our MSRs know the customer is having a problem,” Barth says. During the call, the customer may mention the toy is intended for a baby on the way, and the MSR can add that information to USAA’s system and potentially offer product recommendations. “And, when that customer calls back, the next MSR is going to know that the customer is expecting a baby and can now dig deeper into that conversation.” In addition, the customer doesn’t have to repeat information in subsequent interactions, saving everyone time.

Although each bank defines customer journey mapping in a different way, all three have refined its implementation over time. “One of the best lessons we’ve learned is to use real customer experience examples for creating the journey map,” says Wells Fargo’s Bell. Although maps of processes as they were designed are valuable, they may not depict customers’ actual experiences. “With the number of groups and processes that have to connect, it’s amazing how far off you can be from what you designed to what the customer actually experiences.”

For Citizens, maintaining the right perspective is essential. “If each group goes away and does its own thing without continued communication and understanding about the customer experience, you can lose sight of the fact that there was a broader objective, one that’s bigger than just your own part of the process,” Marty says.

Building maps is not a top-down driven process at Citizens. “It’s bottoms-up driven, and everybody’s point of view matters. Even the very best idea might not work as well as you intend if you’re not looking across the entire enterprise and understand how all the parts work together,” Marty says.

For USAA, changing MSR behavior is an ongoing process. For example, MSRs have historically answered the phone with, “‘Thank you for calling USAA, how can I help you?’” says Barth. “We are trying to change that to, ‘I noticed you were online trying to fill out a credit card application. My name is Ryan, I can help you with that.’ Just that subtle intro makes a huge difference from a customer’s perspective.” Ingrained habits can take a long time to change, but Barth notes that both top performers and those new to USAA have transitioned more quickly than those in the middle tier.

Customer journey mapping has also brought all three banks an additional benefit: stronger employee engagement. “Our frontline employees love it because we are challenging them to be advisors and get to know the member,” Barth says. “Now, they have the information to do that.”

Once Wells Fargo creates a journey map, frontline service representatives weigh in. “They’re the first people we go to, to have a conversation with and do some validation and ask what we could do to solve this pain point. Nobody knows better, in my opinion, than the frontline team members who engage with customers every day what would help,” Bell says. “They don’t have to face that challenge with the customer if we identify it and fix it. And, they can see we’re living out our vision and values every day through our activities.”

“This is a fun and engaging way to do business,” adds Marty. “The folks on my team are always volunteering to be part of the formal sessions because it’s a great way to meet other people to learn more about the organization. And, I think the more you know about the organization, the better equipped you are to actually provide services to the customer.”

Mr. Riddle is director of Research at BAI, which is in the process of launching a contact center benchmarking program that will help contact center managers assess the performance of their bank relative to other banks. He can be reached at mriddle@bai.org

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