Methods to Create Effective Customer Journeys for Your Bank

In our last blog, Jen Megee, PRI project manager, discussed customer journey mapping, how it can improve the customer experience and help solve problems for financial institutions such as high abandonment rates for new loan or deposit account applications.

In this blog, Profit Resources Director of Customer Experience Tom McGill dives into creating effective customer journeys for the FI. He touches on the importance of marrying the “how” and “why” questions within your process, along with listing practical steps to get started.

McGill said that in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of Chief Customer Experience Officer roles across FIs of all sizes. These roles were created to help an FI focus outwardly and represent the customers’ points of view. Stated differently, people filling these roles ask the “why” question while most FIs tend to focus only on the “how.” Their expertise lies in creating effective customer journeys.

Marrying the “how” and the “why”

McGill said a recent example of an unrealized opportunity to rewrite the customer journey involved branch-initiated maintenance transactions. The process required a customer to come into a branch, sign a piece of paper which was then scanned and sent to the back office for processing. After processing, it was stamped “complete” and sent along for further scanning and indexing.

The staff was asked to improve the process, and they recommended switching the ink used to stamp “complete” from oil-based ink to water-based. By doing so, the ink did not bleed through the document, which was causing it to be scanned as two images. While the process was indeed improved incrementally, McGill said the FI did not go far enough, missing an opportunity to fundamentally change the customer journey and realize the benefits to both customers and employees of improving the whole experience.

“Customer Journey Maps marry the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ into one document,” McGill said. “The ‘how’ is expressed as a simple workflow document, showing the touchpoints of any process. Once the current process is documented, the ‘why’ questions begin. Why do need a wet signature on this document? Why does the customer need to stop the process and scan their driver’s license? Why should a customer have to stop into a branch to complete the application?” 

While having a CCEO is a great start, the most successful FIs focus on creating multiple Customer Experience Advocates, all of whom use Customer Journey Maps to document the “hows” and ask the “whys.” Creating a culture in which multiple Customer Experience Advocates spread across the institution is a more desirable outcome than centering on one person in the role. The trick is getting started.

While there are many tools available to assist in generating customer journey maps, McGill suggests that FIs can be quite effective with a simple white board and some post-it notes.

“Don’t become burdened with unfamiliar tools until you’ve built a few maps,” McGill said. “Involve staff from all areas, especially those areas that are customer-facing. Create a dashboard or a scorecard and keep track of the improvements. And celebrate successes as you go.”

In the PRI article Customer Journey Mapping: The Key to Improving Customer Experience, McGill discussed practical ways to get started with creating an effective customer journey map.

“Creating a journey map places the customer at the beginning of the process and requires the FI to think like a customer,” McGill said. “For example, customers often find it unacceptable to wait 10 days for their debit card to arrive in the mail after opening a new account. Rather than justifying the process by explaining it, the FI can create a Journey Map with a goal in mind that helps them reach the next level of service. Asking why at every step along the journey is far more critical than asking how.”

How to get started:

  • Choose a process known to create customer frustration
  • Establish a goal for the Customer Journey Map exercise
  • Put on the “customer hat” or even experience the journey as a customer yourself
  • Document all touchpoints
  • Review each touchpoint and ask why it works the way it does
  • Research best practice models
  • Attack the touchpoints, seeking to remove friction and working toward the ultimate goal

The Financial Brand article, How to Implement Journey Mapping, reminds FIs that no two journey maps are exactly the same and the journey will be different based on the product or service being mapped. However, most will include the following steps:

  • Build customer personas
  • Align consumer goals with the journey
  • Categorize touchpoints
  • Measure results
  • Repair and replace

“How consumers engage with your brand isn’t a linear process. Unfortunately, getting people from point A to point B without abandonment or requiring help doesn’t always happen. Consumers may even skip steps to improve ease of engagement. But understanding engagement positives and negatives will improve the consumer experience and increase revenues.” – Customer Journey Mapping Provides Path to Digital Banking Loyalty (

The BAI article, Mapping Your Banking Customer’s Journey, features a six-step process for building and scaling a successful, sustainable program to map the customer journey. The authors recommend putting each significant customer experience through an annual mapping exercise to ensure the FI is continually making improvements by analyzing the data year over year. Other triggers for updating a journey map include major economic and political events, significant modifications to a banking experience, changes to how customers perceive the market, and merger and acquisition events. – Mapping your banking customer’s journey (

Customer journey mapping has been proven to be highly beneficial to financial institutions and their bottom line. While hiring a CCEO to focus on this aspect of customer engagement can be a great start, it is recommended that FIs deploy Customer Experience Advocates across the institution and teach them how to create effective customer journey maps for all significant touchpoints.

The process does not have to be formal. It can be simple, but it must always ask “why” in addition to “how.” Marrying the “how” and the “why” will allow the FI to take advantage of the many benefits and opportunities inherent in customer journey mapping.

Profit Resources specializes in identifying profitability improvement areas for financial institutions through revenue growth, cost control, streamlining processes, and effective use of technology. Contact us to learn more about our personalized approach to propel growth and improve profitability.

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