Caution: B2B Journey Mapping Is Different, Proceed Accordingly

This is Part One of a two-part series on B2B Journey Mapping. This post discusses the diagnosis of poor B2B Journey Mapping. Part Two “Is Your Firm’s Journey Mapping Outcome-Oriented?” goes into detail about how to address poor or underperforming B2B Journey Mapping.

Late last year at a conference about CX for professional services, I met an engineering firm president who asked how to tell if his firm’s B2B Journey Mapping was yielding the right fruit. He mentioned one of his VPs had a management consultant do a series of journey mapping efforts for the firm. Here is the gist of what he said:

We’ve got a consultant that everyone likes. But I gotta tell ya, I am just not seeing how our plan to map these customer journeys is tying back into the business. I’m just not seeing it. I made sure they explained it to me. But, everything they said was in fairly abstract terms. I know we need to understand our customer, I get that. And I know that everyone is journey mapping. But how can I be sure that these expensive and time-consuming activities are actually going to pay us back in ways that matter? Where’s the substance? Is this a common concern for firm CEOs?

He was all for whatever it took to get his people to better understand the client’s worldview, and he really liked this consultant. He simply wanted to avoid spending any more money on a process that wasn’t going to go anywhere. He went on to say the consultant recommended 15 customer journey mapping sessions which totaled almost $200,000 across six months in outside costs alone.

How to Question Your Journey Mapping Approach

Our approach to journey mapping is highly outcome-oriented, so I had a few questions for him:

  1. Do you think your firm needs customer journey mapping or “client” journey mapping?
  2. What are your total internal costs independent of outside consulting fees for this effort?
  3. What are your specific goals for journey mapping?
  4. How do you suppose you can shift so that you know concretely when you have achieved your journey mapping goals?
  5. What specific outcomes in 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 months would you find worth that price?   

His overall response to these questions was, “God Damnit. That is exactly what I thought.” He told me that he estimated they were going to spend close to $85,000 in internal costs on top of the $200,000+ the consultant was charging. So far he was not seeing any tangible or intangible outcomes—and if there were any, they weren’t being communicated. On top of that, the only articulated goal was to complete 15 B2B Journey Mapping sessions.

How to Course Correct B2B Customer Journey Mapping

I suggested we could audit his journey mapping process and make an independent recommendation if it made sense. He agreed.

We audited two of the 15 planned customer journey mapping sessions (#4 and #5 out of 15).

As a fly on the wall, I was shocked. Each of the journey mapping sessions was a highly generic day-long endeavor with about 15 of the firm’s staff, with three leaders in each session—all of whom spent 90% of the day long session on their laptops doing their day jobs.

The facilitator was engaging and nice but was using a consumer template designed to increase customer transaction volume—borrowed from Google Images with no real customization to fit the unique needs of an engineering firm.

The two journey mapping sessions we audited concluded with a wall of large white sticky post-it notes with a bunch of smaller colored post-its which kept falling off onto the floor—with no one remembering where the dropped post-its fell from.  

Diagnosing a Failing B2B Journey Mapping Effort

At the conclusion of the second B2B Journey Mapping session we audited, the CEO walked in and sat down next to me and asked me what I thought so far. Here are the top ten observations I gave him:

  1. We could tell by the participant’s questions that employees weren’t certain why they were participating in these sessions. It was painful to watch.
  2. Participants weren’t given appropriate context for what they’re mapping or why and they weren’t told if they were mapping current state or future desired state journeys.
  3. There was never consensus on the actual time-based linear client journey phases upon which to map journeys (research, reach out, compare, RFQ/RFP, bid, select, work, complete, conclude, support, etc.) Half the participants disagreed with the phases and shut down, feeling defeated, as a result.  
  4. People weren’t engaging in the process because they couldn’t see how it would benefit them in their roles and for their firm. The process was overly rote and procedural. We watched as employees gave up.
  5. The journey mapping process wasn’t outcome-oriented meaning no one was sure how the maps were going to be used from the session point forward. Concluding each journey mapping session, participants perceived each exercise as the “end” as opposed to a “means to a larger end, which was never articulated.”       
  6. While the journey mapping sessions were designed to focus on individual segments, the segments were mistakenly mixed and only half industry-based (municipal, surveying, hydro, mechanical, site design, community planning). It was scattered and confusing to the facilitator and the participants.
  7. The mapping inputs were focused entirely on highly subjective soft inputs (what do your customers think, feel, desire) excluding harder behavioral measures such as what do they actually do at this stage, how do they behave, empirically, when does that behavior occur in the journey?
  8. There were no connections to the firm’s infrastructure— each client journey phase should also inventory internal roles, systems and processes that can impact or affect each customer at each phase.
  9. There was no focus or isolation of key client interaction points, or “Moments of Truth” prioritizing or weighting some points in the journey higher than others.
  10.  There were no good answers to participant questions about how the maps were going to be communicated out to the rest of the firm. There was no connection to firm economics in the mapping. For example, how much does it cost to acquire, nurture, sustain a client along the journey phases and what is the cost to the firm for the loss of the relationship?

Important: There are “Customer” and “Client” Journey Maps

Our observation is that there are two basic categories of experiences companies want to map:

  • CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE is more commodity-based. It seeks high volume and high frequency exchanges. The loss of any single customer is negligible or unnoticeable.
  • CLIENT EXPERIENCE is more relationship-based. It seeks higher-value and lower frequency exchanges where the loss of any single client can be catastrophic.

The scary reality is, many B2B companies (especially professional services firms) often times fail to draw a distinction in how they prepare client experience work like client journey mapping. They unknowingly use the same approach as an online retailer or a car dealership or a mid-market hotel chain.

This cautionary tale of how an engineering firm’s CEO realized his firm’s client journey mapping was way off-base. In this first part of this series, we show how we helped him spot the waste and misdirection fast enough to course correct the effort. In the second part of this series, we are offering recommendations on B2B client journey mapping to ensure the firm gets the most out of the mapping effort using Outcome-Oriented Client Journey Mapping.

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