Working Journey Centric | From Mapping to Management with Jochem van der Veer

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In this episode of the Customer Service Secrets Podcast, Gabe Larsen meets with Jochem van der Veer, the CEO of TheyDo, to learn more about what it means to be a journey-centric CX organization.

When customers encounter too many pain points while interacting with your brand, chances are they won’t shop with you but will move on to a competitor. Ensuring that your customers have a seamless experience is key to retaining loyalty. Check out the full podcast to learn more about how you can improve your brand to be more journey-centric and utterly customer-obsessed.

Building the framework for a smooth journey

One of the biggest challenges companies face today is keeping up with the demands of the modern customer. Modern customers want fast service. They want to be met on their preferred platforms and they want to have easy experiences without unnecessary roadblocks. This is why it’s so important for leaders company wide to be on the same page when it comes to customer life cycle management.

Jochem explains that journeys look different for all companies and vary depending upon products and services offered. For example, a SAAS company’s journey might be much more involved than that of a fashion retailer’s. 

It’s common for leaders to get overwhelmed when faced with the challenges of carving their desired customer journey and recognizing customer pain points along the way. To those starting this process, Jochem suggests looking at the framework as a whole.

“It is made up of all these different journeys that go around different life events and different things, different interactions, different products and services that they buy, but also interact with. So thinking about a framework to unify all those journeys on those different levels, that is the first step that we help organizations to take.”

Unifying departments across the board is the foundation for successful customer life cycles. When all leaders are kept up to date on the latest changes in service expectations, it translates into a well-functioning company. For example, if a new AI software is being implemented in the CX team, the marketing team should also be made aware of these changes. CX and marketing can then work together to improve AI responses that result in more positive customer outcomes.

A new perspective: how a vertical view changes everything

The CX doesn’t stop the second a customer hits the purchase button; it’s an ongoing process. Assuming that customers are done when they place an order and moving on to the next is a slippery slope to disloyalty.

“So you want to set up not only a journey framework, like a customer life cycle, but also a management process to start working from insight to implementation, not do it once, but continuously.”

This doesn’t mean that reps have to constantly be pushing customers to buy more. It means that when a customer encounters product or shipping issues, they can confidently contact the CX team to fix the problem. This is a perfect two birds with one stone scenario – their questions get answered and the customer stays loyal if they have a good experience.

Many leaders see the journey map as a linear process. According to Jochem, it’s much better interpreted when viewed vertically. A vertical view targets specific transactions and pain points that would’ve otherwise been missed.

“When you look at it vertically, you can look at it from different dimensions and one of them is, for instance, regions. So think about how different regions like Europe versus US go or different customer types, new customers versus existing customers, or maybe even different dimensions that are relevant to your business.”

Jochem hopes listeners will understand that managing customer life cycles and mapping the journey isn’t as difficult as it seems.

“Start small. Just don’t think that you need to have like this whole big, complete journey framework with all the journeys and all the priorities and all the teams synced up before you can start.” 

From there, focus on the framework, continue to update department leaders, and keep a vertical view of the customer journey in sight.

To learn more about creating a journey-centric company, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode below and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.

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Full Episode Transcript:

Working Journey Centric | From Mapping to Management with Jochem van der Veer

Intro Voice: (00:04)

You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.

Gabe Larsen: (00:11)

Hi. Welcome everybody to today’s podcast on the Customer Service Secrets Podcast. We’re going to be talking about mapping management. I always love talking journey mapping but this has got a slightly different twist. To do that we brought on Jochem Van Der Veer who is currently the co-founder and CEO of TheyDo. Jochem, thanks for joining and how the heck are you?

Jochem van der Veer: (00:35)

Hey, thanks Gabe for having me. I’m doing great, actually. It’s Easter and it’s the evening here in Amsterdam where I am. So thanks for having me.

Gabe Larsen: (00:44)

Yeah. Appreciate you joining. I know you’re in a slightly different time zone so we’ll be conscientious of time, but would love to just kind of kick this off high level. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you’re doing over at TheyDo.

Jochem van der Veer: (00:56)

So I am the co-founder, one of the co-founders and CEO at TheyDo and I have a background in interaction design, user experience design, and before we started we weren’t even planning on creating a product company. We were consulting Fortune 500 companies and helping them turn their customer experience, customer service, marketing, and product teams to work as one around the customer journey. And we noticed that, you know, rookie mistakes, as we make them, that the customer journey map, as we created them, big, beautiful posters where people stood around and then applauded because of the insights. And then we figured Monday was business as usual. So as a consulting firm, we started to find some software to transform our way of working with our customers and we realized there was nothing more than a bunch of mapping tools out there. This was post COVID. Everyone does it on whiteboards, but still it’s flat. And we started creating some like tiny solution and some of our customers, big companies like today, like Johnson & Johnson, NCR said, “Can we license this where there’s tremendous value in this? We need a journey mapping solution.” And lo and behold, we’re changing the world with a different approach to using journeys in company’s day to day.

Gabe Larsen: (02:10)

I love it. Great introduction. Can’t wait to learn a little bit more about that and your take on it. And also the consulting background. It’s always great to see. I think that’s often something that’s missing in tech. The companies provide technology and they think that ultimately is going to change everything, but there’s always change management in every tech. There’s just more to do than just throwing the tech at it so it’s fun to have someone that’s got a slightly different perspective than maybe just tech, tech, tech is everything. With that, we’d love to just divert just a little bit. Outside of work, I always like to ask people fun facts, embarrassing moments, something interesting about you just to kind of humanize you before we dive into the meat of the conversation. Anything come to mind?

Jochem van der Veer: (03:00)

Sure. Yeah. And since this is about customer service as well and customer experiences intertwined with that, my first real understanding of what that was like was when I was like 15, I think 16. I was working as an ice cream man, and that was a big thing where I grew up and I got all the looks from the ladies, but also, I grew up in a little town near the German border, so I sold a lot of ice cream to German people. And I noticed I got more tips when I spoke their language and my colleagues just ignored that and stayed talking Dutch, but I just learned a little German, spoke to them in their own language and lo and behold got more tips. So that was the first time I understood what it was like walking in your customer’s shoes.

Gabe Larsen: (03:46)

Interesting. There you go. So, and that was when? You were about 15 years old. Is that right?

Jochem van der Veer: (03:52)

Yeah. 15, 16. I think I started dishwashing and then grew up to be like a professional scooper, as you call it, almost at, I think 16. Yeah. Did that until I left home to go to a university.

Gabe Larsen: (04:04)

I love it. Professional scooper. Yeah. I had a good friend who actually was a professional scooper. They did it so much that they got like a carpal tunnel in their wrist.

Jochem van der Veer: (04:15)

Oh, wow. Yeah. I can imagine it. It’s really hard work when you scoop up the same movement every day. That’s true.

Gabe Larsen: (04:21)

She was like, that’s no joke. That job can be pretty tough. I’m a big, we won’t go into it, but I have multiple weaknesses, but ice cream is definitely top, top, top of the list. I can eat ice cream about any day of the week, any time of the day. So anyways, let’s dive into this topic at hand. So mapping to management, you clicked on it a little bit with the founding of TheyDo, but maybe just go one step deeper. What do you see as kind of the continued problem with just people mapping their organization? Is it their journey map? You’re dealing with it all the time. What’s some of the big things that people are struggling with?

Jochem van der Veer: (05:09)

So, and I think the struggle has become bigger in the last few years. And that has, you could say it’s because of the pandemic that we’re like trying to make sense of everything. Now we’re all remote and on our little island at home, working together and trying digitally to connect and stay alive. But I think there’s a bigger trend that underpins this like direction where everyone’s started using journeys in their work, that customer experience, used to be like this little add-on for support or for service. But now it’s like this end to end thing for businesses. It’s the company’s strategy. It’s about together, we are delivering a customer experience, whatever that may mean for your business. For Amazon, it means different things than to Meta or to another company. But because of it, marketing products, customer support, customer enablement, customer success, all those different teams need to live into the customer experience and start to work as one. What do we do? We make a bunch of journeys, but everyone takes their own vantage point and that just yeah, breaks down at some point in time.

Gabe Larsen: (06:14)

Yeah. It does seem like it is so siloed, and everyone, I assume, this is kind of your point, everyone’s kind of doing their own thing. So you use this phrase, from mapping to management, so why is that then so important or what is that?

Jochem van der Veer: (06:33)

So if you just take journey mapping 101, you can learn in the courses and people teach it in business today, you get a beautiful design thing with a lot of insights that you could or could not use. And then you’re stuck with the journey. So Monday, it’s business as usual. So that doesn’t work and it’s like an old artifact. I believe you should manage journeys the way we manage products because ultimately the journey holds the keys to like, how does a customer do something? Or how do people do things? And how do we as a business stack up our services, products, features, and communication to support that journey? And if you do that in today’s modern technological world, you can start connecting the dots around your journey, basically turning your journey into something real, something living. But as we figured out with a lot of our larger enterprise customers, they have dozens, sometimes hundreds of these journeys that are all interconnected, bigger, smaller, left, right. And yeah, you want to unify them in a framework first before you can do this. So you want to set up not only a journey framework, like a customer life cycle, but also a management process to start working from insight to implementation, not do it once, but continuously.

Gabe Larsen: (07:48)

Love it. I mean, I think that’s one of the challenges you’ve highlighted that I’ve certainly experienced. I love the idea of documenting your journey map and I think a lot of organizations still don’t even get to that step, but ultimately once they do it, it’s so hard to manage. It’s in some Google folder somewhere. It’s not really alive. It’s not active. It’s hard to make something that isn’t just this one time exercise. And then to your point, kind of on Monday, you go back to whatever, maybe you fix one or two of the low hanging fruit and then it’s kind of like three years later, somebody new comes in and is like, “Hey, should we do this?”

Jochem van der Veer: (08:26)

Exactly.

Gabe Larsen: (08:27)

So anyways, I’ve experienced some of that. Would love to get some of your tips and tricks about how you move from mapping to management? You mentioned a little bit about implementation, you mentioned about frameworks or governing. So walk us through how you’ve seen or helped the organizations start to transform, look at, and do this differently.

Jochem van der Veer: (08:49)

Yeah. So you’ve touched upon some of the older artifacts that we see, like Excel files flying all over the wall and like version 6.5 –

Gabe Larsen: (09:00)

Right. Right.

Jochem van der Veer: (09:00)

And probably some of your listeners will say, “Hang on a man. We’re doing this in modern tools. We’re doing this on a whiteboard,” but still, it’s flat. It’s one dimensional. And then your stakeholders come in and they throw away our boards and everything is messed up again and try to do like four versions of the same journey with different scenarios. And then, yeah. Things start to break down. So companies that start applying a journey-centric philosophy in their way of working and really start taking it seriously from the strategic level, all the way to the operational level. The first thing they do is like consolidate everything they have because chances are they already have a lot of good stuff created, a lot of good journeys, a lot of insights, a lot of overview. But it’s fragmented across teams, across files, across things, across wherever.

Jochem van der Veer: (09:44)

Maybe even some things hang still on the virtual or physical office walls. So the first thing to do is like, what is our framework? And most organizations have something like a customer life cycle, maybe B2B customer life cycle, B2C customer life, something like that, or an ecosystem that is more frequency driven, like weekly, monthly, yearly journeys. That could be something like that. But the life cycle’s a typical thing we see, and that is also probably relatable. A life cycle journey is not something like a life cycle framework because if you think about the customer journey being the customer life cycle, yeah. If you’re an insurance company, the customer doesn’t go through that journey in one go in let’s say sixty years that he is, or she is your customer. It is made up of all these different journeys that go around different life events and different things, different interactions, different products and services that they buy, but also interact with. So thinking about a framework to unify all those journeys on those different levels, that is the first step that we help organizations to take. And basically we build the tools to create a simple framework quickly, using your journeys as building blocks. So that is the first ideal step you take as an organization and we see companies do that successfully

Gabe Larsen: (11:05)

And then do one more click into that. So what would be like a sample framework then? How does that differ from, well, is any sample or double click you’d give into that concept of framework as you help somebody kind of think through that and build that idea?

Jochem van der Veer: (11:19)

Yeah. So the easiest way is to think about the customer life cycle, where does it start and where does it end? And then also think, where does it start? Okay. There are, but then think two steps before, like even when people are not even aware that they need your solution or service, but I’ll go into that maybe in another episode, but that that’s still life cycle. Like the framing, like all the way from purchasing the product to renewing, to becoming a loyal customer, to recommendation, whatever it is. And there’s nuances to when you’re like a product-focused company or service-focused company but there’s some general way of setting [inaudible] but then you start to break it down. And here’s one thing that most of our customers thought of an aha moment when they understood that the life cycle is basically time based, right, from left to right. But when you look at it vertically, you can look at it from different dimensions and one of them is, for instance, regions. So think about how different regions like Europe versus US go or different customer types, new customers versus existing customers, or maybe even different dimensions that are relevant to your business. Maybe product groups or service groups vertically, and then organized against that life cycle. And there’s many ways to do this, but that is like a little nugget that people can use.

Gabe Larsen: (12:34)

Interesting. Yeah, it does seem like it gets, you had mentioned this a little earlier, but it can get really complicated. This can get very complicated. There’s different customers or regions, or there are flows or there’s different functional areas. Is there any way you coach organizations, I mean, do you actually try to go through those very specifics or do you try to keep it more broad? Because it can get pretty daunting as you start to look at, the larger the organization, the more complexities. Right?

Jochem van der Veer: (13:00)

Right. And the easier it is to start because there’s probably a lot of journeys that are good enough to go into the framework already and you don’t need to have like all those hundred journeys mapped out. No, you need to know the contours of your framework to get started.

Gabe Larsen: (13:13)

Cool.

Jochem van der Veer: (13:13)

We have some programs designed to help people do this, but what I’ve found very cool is that you don’t need to look at just one framework. You can look at the customer life cycle as your first lens.

Gabe Larsen: (13:24)

Love it.

Jochem van der Veer: (13:25)

But if you’re looking at your specific domains for your products or maybe regions, you can set up specific frameworks for those as well, using the same journeys in a different constellation as a building block. That’s maybe a little bit too detailed for now, but some of the more sophisticated organizations have different ways of looking at the customer experience using the same journeys, but different dimensions.

Gabe Larsen: (13:47)

Love it. Okay. So that’s a big one. Nailing down this word framework and understanding how the customer life cycle may fit into that. Where do you go next? Once that framework’s nailed down, how do you start to then think about the next move?

Jochem van der Veer: (14:00)

So this is like a small group of people in your organization that already think big picture can oversee this, like from service design, UX design, or customer experience, if that’s the holistic approach your business has. So a small group of people building basically this whole framework, setting up the boundaries for the rest of the team or the guidelines and the rules. And then you need to define like, okay. So how do we want to work with journeys? Let’s say you’re a product company and you have a bunch of digital products. Maybe there’s a suite of products or just one, and you have a set of features. They want to understand when do our customers interact with these products and where, but also using those journeys not only to show how people go step by step through, let’s say onboarding or upgrading or buying your product for the first time, but also understanding what are we planning to do next? And how does that tie back into those journeys and which steps does that influence, impact? And basically if you have that idea of how you want to work with journeys, it’s time to create a bunch of templates that your teams can start using. And I think that’s the next step that we see companies do.

Gabe Larsen: (15:09)

Got it, got it. So you start to work within those frameworks a little bit. Do people choose champions from groups or what you mentioned, like almost like a team or a tiger team? How do they think through, should everyone be involved, should only certain individuals?

Jochem van der Veer: (15:26)

Yeah, so it’s a gradual process usually. So there’s always the champions, the people that know how to do this and understand how to do it and, and they with our help, train others in the organization to be successful at this. But typically it’s best when there is a project when there is an OQR or there is a goal to be together to be working towards. And then you start digging. What are the journeys that are related to it? What data do we have that can back this up? Where are the insights coming from? What more research do we need to do to make this journey actual, to understand it and to start defining the opportunities? And I think, I don’t know if you understood this from our website, for instance, but what we see is that we take those opportunities from the journeys and we let the teams define them in the journeys. But we help them to say across all the different teams and journeys, let’s bring these opportunities to one place so we can start aligning them with our company strategy before we go into solution mode. And that is a key step that if you want to work journey centric, we help organizations to do that.

Gabe Larsen: (16:35)

Yeah. So you mentioned kind of bringing together the templates before I asked that last question. It does seem like sometimes the different journeys, they get so different, they get so funky, but it sounds like part of this exercise is supplying people with something that you can one, have them follow kind of a certain program, but two, it allows easier for that unification after like, am I understanding that right? Or kind of that alignment after?

Jochem van der Veer: (17:01)

Yeah. It’s the alignment. I think alignment is a beautiful word for this, because journey, as you can think about like the marketing journeys or the content journeys that go directly to the customer, right? The personalization of a specific flow of emails with some content that is related to your use case. That’s not what we’re talking about here. It’s more about understanding what the customer does step by step but then looking inwards to the organization and really understanding on every level from every different angle, from different teams, what do we do currently that works? Where are the opportunities for making this better? What are the frustration for the customers that we can turn into business opportunities to address with our new solutions, with our features, with our better content? Maybe even doing new research. And that internal alignment using journeys as the common denominator is so powerful to transform an organization to really deliver on their customer experience and work as one. I’ve not seen anything that can do that because the product is just vertical, right? It’s just one thing.

Gabe Larsen: (18:01)

Yeah, yeah. So to kind of finish up that process, so now you’ve now built it. You’ve got it in the program. You’re getting some alignment from individuals, where do you go from there? How do you keep it kind of active or get to that future state? What are some of those last pieces?

Jochem van der Veer: (18:19)

Yeah. So let’s stick to the product company example. So you have your journey, because this is what we typically see, right? Journeys are like this messy feeling driven experience, driven artifacts and our products are like, there’s features, there’s epics, there’s a roadmap, there’s priorities. We have metrics. But you know, it’s almost a science. What you want to do is bring those two worlds together. So just a very detailed example, we integrate with common tools like Jira. So you already have some roadmap or some priorities, some PI planning or a roadmap there. And then we look into, okay, so the journeys define the opportunities. So let’s say there’s four opportunities within the OKR for a single team that you want to address. What are the things that we’re already planning? Okay. So how do they stack up to these opportunities?

Jochem van der Veer: (19:07)

Do they deliver value? Can it go into all these different effort scoring mechanisms? But the first thing you do is, is it right what we’re trying to build? Do we need to reiterate that strategy? And by integrating those things together, teams are aligned because product will need to deliver on spec, on time, within the frame of you know, if you run an agile organization within the cadence of the company, it already flows. So you don’t want to throw that away. You just want to enhance the process by making it focus on the customer or making it even more focused on the customer.

Gabe Larsen: (19:39)

Love it. Yeah. Yeah. That seems connected. I love your example with Jira. Yeah. Connecting it to some other systems or other programs or processes, I think really helps, probably incorporate it more actively into the business so that you don’t kind of just treat it as a one time example. I like that.

Jochem van der Veer: (19:59)

That’s I think the perfect thing, what you just mentioned there. So then the feature gets shipped or multiple features get shipped, the app gets delivered, so then the journey gets updates and the people that are involved around those decisions get updated instead of needing to go to the product manager again, “Is it live? Yeah. Do we measure it again? Oh, hang on. I forgot about it. What did you do with that product?” So you really make that alignment work as one, rather than in a series of meetings and remembering and reminders and all that stuff.

Gabe Larsen: (20:31)

It becomes a little less disparate. Yeah. Almost like centralization of that. I like it. So as we look to wrap here a little bit, maybe summarize. We had a bunch of different kinds of concepts in here, but what would be the thing you’d leave marketing, CX, CS leaders with as they think about trying to take their journey mapping to just the next level? You’ve got so many people at different places, right? Some haven’t even started it. Some are in that Excel, Google Doc version 7.299. What would be kind of your advice to people who want to step up their game when it comes to journey mapping?

Jochem van der Veer: (21:14)

So start small. Just don’t think that you need to have like this whole big, complete journey framework with all the journeys and all the priorities and all the teams synced up before you can start. The only two things you need is a unified framework, at least in your mind, at least well, in the product, let’s say you can set it up but you don’t need all the journeys. But then start thinking, where do you have leverage? Where’s the pain? Where’s the current needs of our organization? Where can journeys really help to bring that alignment, deliver a project that benefits the customer and the business and make that little business case for yourself? Like literally make the business case so that you can start doing more of it and get more resources to build it out. And within the framework start doing it step by step.

Gabe Larsen: (21:58)

Love it.

Jochem van der Veer: (21:58)

Starting small.

Gabe Larsen: (21:59)

Love it. Great advice. Super important topic. If someone wants to learn a little bit more about yourself or what you guys are doing over at TheyDo, any recommendations, thoughts on that?

Jochem van der Veer: (22:11)

Yeah, sure. So I’m pretty approachable. LinkedIn. You can just send me a DM. I think you need to connect with me, but I’ll accept you and then we can have a chat. But if you’re really serious about doing this for your organization, you think they can benefit from working journey centric, then I suggest making an account on TheyDo and start making the first steps there. We have a ton of material that’s coming your way when you sign up. Then send me a DM and we can connect and I’ll guide you step by step.

Gabe Larsen: (22:37)

I love it. Cool. Well, yeah, definitely encourage that. We’ll put it in the show notes to check out. TheyDo. So Jochem, again, thanks so much for joining. And for the audience, have a fantastic day.

Exit Voice: (22:53)

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