We all talk about it. Most of us believe it. Nearly nobody does it: Organizations are NOT optimising for value for customer. If they did, they’d make sure to help customers accomplish their goals and meet their needs. But instead, most companies optimize value for the business. Three illusions are at the root of this.

Lie 1: We Understand “Customer Journeys” And Customers’ Goals

People frequently use the term “customer journey” and nearly as frequently misuse it. For example, they use it when they really mean:

  • Customer lifecycle. We often see companies refer to the entirety of a relationship (e.g., from discover to evaluate, buy, use, and get support) as a “customer journey.” And while the lifecycle is an important way of thinking about the customer relationship, it is not “a journey” but a collection of many macro and micro journeys.
  • Company goal. Companies also often use terms such as “advocacy journey” or “conversion journey.” But these aren’t journeys either. These are just a way of saying that a customer does something the company wishes for.
  • Company process. And in some cases, the way journeys are framed reveals that they are thought of as company processes rather than journeys. For example, the “pricing journey” is a company process of creating a custom price and quote for a client. The customer journey would be “obtain a quote.”

A Customer Journey Is About Them, Not You

A customer journey is the lived experience of a customer as she interacts with brands, organisations, and people in pursuit of a goal in her life that is both individual and contextual.

  • Lived experience. It is everything a customer does and the emotions he or she feels while doing these things.
  • Interactions. These include interactions with your organisation but also interactions with other brands and organisations (e.g., competitors, partners, associations), interactions with people (e.g., other customers and people from a customer’s social setting like friends or family), and the actions of the customer herself (e.g., waiting).
  • Goals. These goals range from granular (e.g., “avoid a late fee by paying my bill on time”) to higher-level (“get a mortgage to buy a house”) and from primary or immediate (e.g., “open a bank account to deposit a paycheck”) to secondary or longer-term (e.g., “use the personal verification functionality associated with the account to file my taxes”).

Define Journeys Around Customer Goals

Defining journeys around individual and contextual customer goals is crucial because different goals lead to:

  • Different needs. For example, the journey of getting coffee is completely different if the goal is to get a break from the office or to have a first meeting with a possible romantic date. Customers will have different value drivers and emotional needs.
  • Different start and end points. Let’s go back to that coffee journey. If the purpose is to get away from the office, it doesn’t start with entering the coffee shop but with feeling the need to get away from the office. It doesn’t end with having bought the coffee but rather when the customer is refreshed and ready to go back.

Lie 2: We Can “Deliver” Value To Customers

Companies might deliver a product or offer a service. But they don’t “deliver” value for customer.

Why? Because value is a customer’s perception along four dimensions: economic, functional, experiential, and symbolic. And that perception is contextual. That’s why two people who interact with the same company and use the same functionality may end up having completely different value perceptions.

Take the example of the music streaming app Spotify. The app lets music fans search, listen to, and download music as well as create playlists. That is the product that Spotify delivers. Now, think of two different types of music enthusiasts. One is interested in building out playlists for exercising. The other is a purist who prefers to listen to vinyl records of her favorite artists. The first fan perceives a high value when using Spotify. The second perceives low to no value. Now, if context changes, the value perception can change: The purist on vacation may start to perceive value in using Spotify because she had to leave her vinyl records at home.

Lie 3: Our Metrics Are Aligned With A Focus On Customers

While lots of companies emphasize how customer-centric they are, actions speak louder than words. And many actions of organisations aim at extracting value of customers in order to increase the value for the business:

  • Charge fees to increase profitability.
  • Push offers to cross- and upsell in order to increase revenue.
  • Ask customers to spend time on giving feedback to improve the organisation.
  • Beg customers to refer the company to others to gain new customers.

That’s because common metrics reinforce your organisation’s focus on extracting value of customers and ignore value for customers:

  • On B2B marketing and sales dashboards, value-for-company metrics account for 70% of metrics.
  • According to a Bain study, only 10% of companies have maximizing value for customers as a key goal.
  • According to Forrester data, only 5% of CX pros say their company uses a value-for-customer measure as a way to gauge success of their CX work.

How Can You Overcome Those Three Challenges?

To hear more and discuss with us, join us at our 2022 Forrester CX EMEA Forum. It’s taking place in London on June 22 and 23:

  • I will share what customers really value and how to change the organisation’s metrics to ensure that they focus on what their real goal should be: maximizing value for customers.
  • My colleague Joana de Quintanilha will reveal insights from her latest research on what companies must do to become and stay journey-centric.
  • My colleague Enza Iannopollo will share how to increase customer trust so that customers will go on more journeys with you.
  • And my colleague Jacob Morgan will examine how to understand the role your business plays in customers’ wider journeys and how digital technology creates opportunities to do more for your customers.

Please consider joining us and your peers at CX EMEA 2022 on 22–23 June. Register here.

We are all looking forward to seeing you there.