A Playbook for Improving Customer Journeys

It feels great to see and map the experiences that customers have; you suddenly have a handle on what’s really happening from their perspective. But you’ve also set yourself up for something much harder — improving that customer journey you now see.

You can’t just stop after creating an experience map. That’s because a good current-state experience map is simply oozing with potential: the potential to create an even better experience. But how do you move forward? How do you see the opportunities? Well, it’s a little easier when you know what to look for, what the patterns of success are.

From a wealth of work in this space, we’ve found some common patterns that have emerged when we travel from current-state experience maps to bringing about future-state experiences. Here are the categories of solutions we’ve seen turn up repeatedly, a list we hope generates ideas and debate over how to best improve the customer experience you’re managing:

Erasing Troughs

A particularly bad point in the experience becomes the memorable moment to customers. By solving these troughs you can turn a low moment in the experience into a smooth moment, letting another great moment stand out for the customer. Or, with a great solution, you might even invert the trough into a new memorable peak in the experience. 
For example, GE Healthcare redesigned their medical imaging equipment so that children would find the experience less scary.

Early Solutions

A pervasive or reoccurring problem in the experience can often be solved by looking upstream in the experience to find where the problem could be avoided or diminished by setting better expectations or putting the customer on a smoother path. 
For example, a homebuilder creates an at-home guide for customizing your new home’s build-out so that the decisions would be less daunting when you arrive at their design center.

Strong Starts

Akin to Early Solutions, these are strong starting experiences that set the customer up with better expectations and greater likelihood for actually making it to the rest of the experience. 
For example, unboxing and on-boarding experiences are designed to get customers started successfully so that they begin engaging with a new product or service and are therefore more likely to adopt it for regular use.

Strong Ends

The end of the experience is one of the two things customers remember about their experience (the other thing being the best or worst part of the experience, according to the Peak-End Rule). Finishing on a relevant high note helps send customers off with a very positive recall of their journey.
For example, some services work to give you tangible evidence of what they did for you as a final point of uplift.

Earlier Starts, Later Ends

What’s the customer doing immediately before or immediately after their journey with you? One of the best ways to improve their experience might be by meeting them where they’re at or taking them to the next step of where they’re going. Changing the “goal posts” can change your metrics and results in big ways. 
For example, take it from Twitter when they gained big by focusing on converting non-users to not just new users, but active users.

Smoother Handoffs

One of the easiest things to find and often the hardest to orchestrate are better handoffs between touchpoints and moments. Customers quit the journey or have big frustrations when they seemingly have to start over again when switching touchpoints. Smoothing these out means erasing the seams between internal business units and departments to work in a forward flow with the customer. 
For example, both OpenTable and Starbucks have started offering Uber rides within their mobile apps to remove the seems between finding a location and getting there to enjoy it.

Skips and Jumps

Completely remove steps or stages of the journey that you can do on the customer’s behalf. 
For example, Intuit’s SnapTax does the data entry work for customers by uploading and transcribing a photo of their W-2 form (a tax form for employees stating how much money they were paid by their employer).

Magnifying Peaks

You might have a strong point in the experience that you do better than anyone, but not every customer experiences it or it simply doesn’t stand out. Magnifying peaks means scaling the peak to everyone possible, setting expectations that something great is going to happen, and then embellishing so the customer feels it full-force. 
For example, Netflix builds up expectations for the release of it’s own content, such as House of Cards, and makes it available—the entire season in full—to every one of its subscribers.

Total Reimagining

It’s a completely new experience, taking advantage of capabilities that current providers just haven’t or just can’t take advantage of. In many cases, this might involve reversing assumptions about how the experience is enabled. 
For example, Airbnb has reimagined rentals, orchestrating an entirely new type of experience so you feel at home wherever you are in the world. Today, Airbnb is one of the biggest providers of overnight rentals, yet they don’t own any real estate.


The order of stages and steps in the experience is driven by a business process. Meanwhile, the customer’s natural decision-making process happens in a different order. This means re-ordering the business process to work the way the customer does. 
For example, Warby Parker’s Home Try-On experience moves the purchase moment to a point after you’ve had five days to try out five frames at home.

Intelligent Experiences

Better knowledge of the customer and digital services allows for journeys to feel smarter: journeys that sense context, anticipate needs, proactively adapt, respect people, and continuously measure and improve the outcomes. Yes, I totally stole this from the qualities of “intelligent experiences” of Mike Wittenstein written up in the CX Outlook
For example, Disney’s MagicBand combines knowledge of the guest and knowledge of park conditions to create better experiences within what remains to largely be the same resort environment as always.

Of course, which category of solution depends on your experience. To really improve the customer experience you have, you’re going to need to use not just one, but a few of the types of solutions above.

Thanks for reading. This story was originally published to adaptivepath.org.