In the March 2016 McKinsey Insights, they explored the importance of the customer’s end-to-end journey. For years, companies have emphasized touchpoints, messages that literally touch a customer in some way to collectively create their experience with the product, brand or business. Touchpoints are ideally mapped to the customer lifecycle.

However, in the piece From Touchpoints to Journeys: Seeing the World as Customers Do, McKinsey director Alex Singla discusses how “customer journeys include many things that happen before, during, and after the experience of a product or service.”

This experience can be long, stretching across multiple channels and — including multiple touchpoints. It can often lasting days or weeks, with more touchpoints adding more complexity to the customer relationship and experience.

The article identifies six actions that are critical to managing customer-experience journeys:

  1. Step back and identify the nature of the journeys customers take—from the customer’s point of view.
  2. Understand how customers navigate across the touchpoints as they move through the journey.
  3. Anticipate the customer’s needs, expectations, and desires during each part of the journey.
  4. Build an understanding of what is working and what is not.
  5. Set priorities for the most important gaps and opportunities to improve the journey.
  6. Come to grips with fixing root-cause issues and redesigning the journeys for a better end-to-end experience.

Read more about each of these steps here.

At the core is customer satisfaction. When the journey is considered and accommodated, business and employees both report higher satisfaction.