Why it is fundamentally important to any transformation endeavour…

Most financial services have embraced customer journey programmes as they have become the ‘go-to’ model to spearhead digital/enterprise transformations. The customer journey blueprint embraces a customer-first mentality, adds a ring-fenced multi-disciplinary team, and uses a scaled agile framework powered by modern engineering. If the aspiration of transformation is to identify greater value and deliver it faster, the customer journey approach has become the ‘de facto’ model to organise and deliver customer value at pace. 

The reason why customer-centricity is so fundamentally important to any transformation endeavour is relevancy.

● The continued relevance of your brand and organisational purpose to your customer

● The relevancy of your products, and your propositions, to your current and future customer’s markets

● The relevancy and effectiveness of your underlying operating model to support this change

● Organisations are embracing customer-centricity to ensure their future relevancy and longevity

Financial services have consistently excelled at becoming finely tuned product manufacturing and product marketing organisations. However, they are increasingly concerned with brand & product relevancy and moving from traditional product management toward more expansive proposition development, defined as the ‘reasons that people decide to become’ and the ‘reasons why people decide to stay’ customers. This means all aspects of value creation need to be considered together, such as brand, values, marketing, price, features, service, and experiences.

Shifting the focus from product to proposition is vital. It pivots the functional needs of simple products like a mortgage to loftier goals like long term financial stability. Bear in mind, customer journeys are not the entire solution, but since they define and map out customer value over commercial value, it lays the foundations of proposition management. 

Organising around customer journeys is particularly powerful in its impact on traditional financial product management. Customer journeys help cross-functional teams generate opportunities by breaking down the paradigms between ‘thinkers’ and ‘doers.’ Creatives and developers are no longer just the manufacturers of experience but become level with product management & marketing as they share an equal say in product development. True customer-centricity cannot be unlocked without the customer journey programmes unifying transformation teams. Ultimately, the move toward proposition management will be more challenging.

There are two reasons why customer journeys need help shifting enterprises towards authentic customer-centricity. Journeys that look at a single lifecycle segment like product application (sales) do not represent the full customer experience; they are simply a ‘customer-light’ version of an existing business process. These segmented process journeys miss the continuity of whole customer experience, and it’s often these transitional life cycle moments that lead to gaps and missed customer experience. It’s also where the controlled framework breaks. Focusing on simplicity may improve customer satisfaction, but it is not ‘customer in.’ 

Beyond execution and the scope of the journey, some additional indicators will accurately predict whether there has been an enterprise shift towards customer-centricity. Product management and the broader change team typically spend more face time with customers and colleagues while traditional product owners do not. The result is the product owners will rely on secondary research reports, channel analytics, and segmentation & marketing insights. Participatory design and customer inclusion in the creation of propositions and experiences indicate a shift towards true customer-centricity. Customers should be considered active members of the change teams – if they are not visible and present throughout the change life cycle, the team is behind. If product managers are not spending 1-2 days per month on the front line with customers and colleagues, then they are not as customer-centric as needed and, ultimately, less customer-centric with reporting and analytics. There is no short track for valuable time. 

Moving towards customer-centricity should focus on a change in investment spending. Also, R&E practices focused around inclusivity, paired with customer-centric testing, will drive tangible change. If colleagues are not exposed to enough time on the front lines and the spend on research is not increasing in line with greater inclusion, then any ‘customer-in’ view created by the journey approach is arbitrary at best.

Customer journey transformations are essential to increasing value into an enterprise change function whilst ensuring customer-focused increases. Successful customer journey programmes will become the beacon for the future of work, cultural evolution, and catalyse organizations to transformation. Customer journeys have the power to shift organisations towards customer-centricity, but they need to be carefully implemented.

Organisations can’t be customer-centric without journeys. They focus on change colleagues, spending more time with customers, visibly including customers in value creation, and identifying and measuring what customers value through leading metrics. Equally, journeys focused on picking up existing end-to-end business processes will miss the value of looking customer-in and supporting the move towards being propositionally led. 

Customer journeys are a power lever to shift an organisation towards customer-centricity, but they need to be carefully implemented, and other supporting indicators also need to be tracked.

Matt Hopgood is a Group Vice President for Publicis Sapient. He specialises particularly at the intersection of business design and business architecture and connecting them to customer experience. Deep expertise in digital strategy, creative and commercial leadership, service design, change management, customer research, data visualisation, information architecture, retail, commercial and investment banking UX, trading & risk software. Matt is an architect by training and education and has played a wide range of roles creating customer propositions and experience in financial services, advertising, and media companies.

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