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Journey Map Lessons: People Matter Most in the Backstage

Never underestimate the work being done by the support team to make the experience happen

For anyone who has spent time creating journey maps, you have hopefully grown to appreciate the yin and yang of the Frontstage and Backstage systems. Since it is customer facing, the Frontstage gets much of the glory and praise for delivering the customer’s experience. However, the job could not be completed or improved without the full support of the Backstage.

The easiest analogy for this scenario is to imagine going to a play performed by master thespians, yet the stagehands were only at the apprentice level. Although many of the shortcomings of the performance might not be witnessed, the stress created by lack luster support would negatively impact the overall experience.

Unfortunately, this situation is all too common when it comes to how businesses are run. Too little focus is spent on providing the Backstage support that companies need to offer a competitive advantage. From our experience, here are 5 reasons why this tends to happen:

1) Employees are "voluntold" to do the job and 2) there is little to no investment in development

These employees might have been at a stage in their career where their current job has been phased out or where they are looking for a change. Far too often the employees, who are placed in key customer experience support roles, may not have the knowledge, skills, nor ability to do the job.

Keep in mind that customer experience is still a relatively new field, so organizations will give employees a free pass for not being developed in this area. This is not the fault of the employee as the organization has taken a belief that adding people, no matter what skill level will make a positive impact. Of course, I love the below example of the 3 skilled soccer players vs the 100 kids that clearly shows this model is not always effective.

To get customer experience right, companies need to spend money and resources on developing all their workforce with the basics of the approach and invest even more on those who play a significant role in the support process.

3) There is a belief that processes will solve everything

When doing Backstage mapping, we often find that organizations are completely void of process or at least are missing important ones. Then there is often a suggestion made that we start to develop a process for everything that could happen in the organization.

Process wizards and gurus please do not take offense, as I personally love a good process. However, the process is only as good as the people who are willing and able to follow-it. In addition, much literature has been surfacing that shows companies who are not tied down by process, but rather who are flexible enough to suggest that their Backstage employees listen to and empathize with customers are better at providing the experiences that customers so cherish.

4) Companies get sold on the idea that new technology will make them customer-centric

Who doesn't love the idea that Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Chatbot technology will drive down resolution time and cost? Well, according to Forbes, Chatbots Are Killing Customer Service , it's customers who are not too happy with this concept. This should not be surprising as emulating empathy is difficult enough for humans who are trying their best to serve others. To expect software to now take a walk in the customer's shoes is a difficult image to conjure.

Whether or not it is Chatbots, Customer Experience Management or other operational technology, the quintessential error that companies make is failure to understand how their employees will interact with the technology to improve the customers' experience. Just as simple design processes tell us, it is all understanding the human in the loop.

5) Companies have too much information and too little insights

These days it is rare to hear a company say that they simply have too little information. Information is free flowing and many times not well contained. Yet the bigger concern is that humans can only process a limited amount of information. Given that most support employees are not trained how to use analytic tools, do not know how to pull insights from information, and are not given time or authority to do this work they are limited in the assistance they can provide the frontlines.

The lesson learned from backstage mapping is that there are many things important to the customers' experience, yet people are the key enabler and we need to think about how decisions, policies, procedures, technology, training & development, and insights impact them in enabling the rest of the organization.

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