introducing danny peters from milkymap.
Businesses know that customer experience (CX) is important. They know that positive customer experiences lead to increased sales, improved customer loyalty, better brand reputation and advocacy, a willingness to share data and reduced costs throughout the organization.
And today, some research argues that CX is even more important than product and price when differentiating between brands. In short, CX is where companies are making their mark in the modern world.
Yet despite such evidence, for many businesses, there’s still a disconnect between what customers value and need, and what the business offers. And if that disconnect results in a bad experience, it’ll cost. 32% of customers say they will walk away from a brand they love after just one such experience.
Arguably, that disconnect is partly because companies don’t have the tools to effectively learn about, visualize, manage and act upon customer experiences. Enter Milkymap, a company whose mission is to help businesses do exactly that. With their data-driven customer journey mapping platform, Milkymap empowers others to learn about their customers in real-time and become truly customer-centric.
We talked to Co-founder Danny Peters about how learning about customers can teach businesses about themselves, why customer journey mapping is important for startups and some of the mapping mistakes you should avoid.
How did Milkymap start?
In 2017, we founded Milkymap to help organizations visualize and improve customer experience. I was running a CX consultancy firm at the time but wanted to make the methodologies I was using into a scalable, accessible tool for everyone.
That’s where Olf Uineken (Co-founder) came in; someone who has decades of experience with Customer Service and ICT. So, we decided to create something together. He sold his former company, and we integrated my CX consultancy into what’s now Milkymap.
Today, we help companies increase sales, cut costs and increase loyalty with current and new customers.
And what does Milkymap offer?
Our core offering is a way to create, visualize, manage, present and share customer journey maps (many at one time if needed), and collaborate and improve customer KPI’s. It’s a data-driven way to improve customer experience in real-time, and it’s a platform designed so that the insights gained can be acted upon.
Learning seems to be at the foundation of Milkymap; it’s a way to learn more about customers. Why are you interested in this process of learning?
I started my career as an agent in a call center, so for over twenty years, I’ve been interested in learning how to see from a customer’s perspective. I’ve always found it fascinating. Olf and I also have backgrounds in studying customer-centric subjects where empathy is a recurring topic.
And I think, in some ways, Milkymap is about empathy; about providing the tools for companies to learn about their customers and in turn be more empathetic.
I also like that learning is so continuous. It’s true in any industry, but in CX, there are always new things to learn about customers because they’re always changing — that’s exciting. I’m grateful that I’ve managed to build a business in which learning is so fundamental. It’s inseparable from Milkymap’s mission.
At the same time, Milkymap isn’t just a tool for learning about customers, but a tool for learning new ways to work within an organization too. Could you talk about this?
With Milkymap you can look at your organization and processes from a customer perspective. By having more (and better) insights into what your customers want and how they act, you can align your business processes with their needs. And I believe it should be that way round.
We often organize workshops where employees and managers act as a customer, and from that, they can see if and how their current way of working meets customers’ needs. Allowing companies to experience this themselves is crucial.
Why is customer journey mapping important specifically for startups?
Research shows that companies that focus on customer experience are more successful than companies that don’t. And startups are not exempt from this. What’s more, startups often have limited resources. They must understand their customers as soon as possible so the resources they do have are allocated strategically.
Focusing on customer experience also drives loyalty, and again that’s important for startups who are looking to rapidly build a positive brand image. So it’s necessary for all businesses at all stages to be directed by customer experience. It informs so much, and I think it’s wise for startups to embrace the opportunity to build a customer-centric business from the ground up.
How has worldwide digital transformation changed customer journeys?
Interesting question, because customer journeys haven’t changed that much, but the channels used to carry out those journeys have. The customer experience industry has only been creating and using customer journeys as we know them today for the last ten years. Before that, they didn’t exist. In those years, the steps a customer took were similar, but they took them through different channels and for different reasons.
What has changed are the needs, expectations and channels. We now have chatbots, automated marketing and personalized messages along the journey, but these aren’t necessarily a change in the journey itself.
What have you learned about customer journeys in the wake of the pandemic?
The pandemic has proven that it’s possible to deliver exceptional, personal and human customer experiences through digital channels. And I think that’s inspiring. Seeing companies meet dramatically shifting customer needs through such a difficult time has been incredible.
And what challenges come with these shifts?
I think it’s a challenge to transform your internal data into positive change for external customer experiences. How do you translate the needs of the customers that you find in data into operational processes?
That’s where tools such as Milkymap come in. We’re data-driven and customer-centric, and I believe you need those two things to meet the shifts in customer experience. We combine large amounts of data from different sources into one CX data modelling structure so that departments can learn, make choices and improve with ease.
What are some mistakes businesses make when mapping customer journeys?
Mapping them in different ways is a common mistake. If there’s no standard process for mapping, departments can’t compare, make decisions and act upon any insights.
Second, we see a lot of journey activities still without a customer involved, which is detrimental to the entire process. You have to involve the people you’re wanting to know more about.
Lastly, we still see companies not reassessing their customer journey maps. Learning about customers and adapting your business to their needs is a continuous process, and how you map customer experiences has to reflect this.
What are the first steps for a business to become more customer-centric?
Everyone in the company has to feel what customers are feeling. So, you have to experience what customers are experiencing. See, feel and touch the systems, processes, e-mails, communication and products/services that you sell. Keep a diary and visualize it (Milkymap can help). Only after you experience your business from your customers’ perspective will you be able to improve.
I call at least one customer every week and ask, “how’re you doing?”. And I have a thirty-minute meeting every week with a random user of our platform and ask, “what do you think?”. That input is invaluable for the whole team; we learn from it and we use it to make decisions in our development process. Our backlog is filled with real customer needs, not inventions from ourselves.