Meet Jochem van der Veer, Co-Founder and CEO of TheyDo. His business is based on a simple yet sometimes impossible task for large organizations: breaking down processes to make it easier for C-level executives to connect with their customers.
Traditionally, small and large organizations have focused on customer journey mapping. TheyDo has a strategic focus on customer journey management, an innovative strategy that creates alignment to what the company designs versus what the customer actually experiences. This allows the organizations that Jochem and TheyDo partner with to make data-driven decisions with qualitative inputs.
Betsy and Tony dive deep into this conversation with Jochem and explore what the future of the customer experience could be in the next 5-10 years: intertwining individual emotions with transactions and journeys to predict future behavior.
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About Jochem van der Veer
Anyone working with customer journeys will deeply resonate with the struggle to align everyone around a shared understanding of the customer experience. As Co-Founder & CEO of TheyDo, the customer journey management solution for enterprises, Jochem van der Veer is pushing the boundaries of modern CX management, enabling true cross-team collaboration in today’s increasingly virtual world.
Having worked in interaction and UX design for 10+ years, Jochem is well-versed in the power of truly walking in your customer’s shoes and passionate about helping companies transform towards a customer-centric way of working. His latest SaaS venture, TheyDo, is a platform that enables companies to visualize, standardize, and scale journey management so that their business goals align with customer needs.
The Future Of CX Is Customer Journey Management With Jochem van der Veer
The Transformation Of Customer Experience
I’m here with my co-author of the new book, The Rarest Advantage.
Tony, it’s good to see you. I’m the CEO of The Congruity Group and co-author of the new book, The Rarest Advantage, available on Amazon. We have a great conversation with Jochem van der Veer. He has got an organization called TheyDo doing some cool stuff that I’m going to let Tony start off talking about.
I love that we had this interview. We’re branching into some areas, looking at where customer experience is going in 2022 and beyond. The conversation we get into is important because it’s a challenge that has existed in the CX world for a long time. We all know about customer journey mapping. We’ve all done it before, but as Jochem points out, what happens the Monday after the final presentation of the project is that business goes back to normal. In other words, it doesn’t transform the company.
He’s talking about the product that they’ve created and why they created it. We go deep into why they created this product called TheyDo. It’s a journey management software and tool. It’s so much more than that, but I want to get into the conversation with them. It’s solving this problem that we’ve had for so long in the CX space about how you turn the journey map into something that’s used for management purposes.
It’s almost like the Jetsons for CX. Where he’s going with this is so fascinating, and a brilliant mind behind this product. It’s a great conversation. What captured me the most was this holistic view of the hundreds of journeys that your customers are on and how you pull all of those together to create this understanding organization-wide of what this customer is experiencing. With that, let’s jump into this great conversation with Jochem van der Veer.
Jochem, welcome to the show. We’re so glad you’re here. I can’t wait to have the conversation.
Thanks for having me, Betsy, and Tony.
It’s excellent to have you here. Let’s kick off by getting our audience up to speed on who you are, what you do, and how you got to where you are now in your career.
I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of TheyDo, where we built journey management tools for enterprise organizations. Before we even started thinking about a product organization, I was a CX professional. I helped transform larger organizations, think Fortune 500 companies, and worked with the teams to help them deliver on customer experience, and while doing that, instilling a culture of design thinking, helping to understand how to apply human-centered design, journey mapping, and all those kinds of tools into the organization’s rhythm.
We were guilty of making journey maps for most of the projects we did and helping teams use journeys in their day-to-day. We realized beyond the big stakeholder reveal presentation, where the whole room was filled with the board and all the stakeholders involved, that it was a massive success. On Monday, it was business as usual. We thought this couldn’t be true. We cannot scale our practice and serve all these clients if we don’t have the tools to help us do this better. That’s when we started to look into the role and what was out there.
We figured there were only visualization tools. We believe you should manage journeys the way you manage products. Because there was nothing out there, we started to build a little solution to practice ourselves until our first customer said, “We want to scale this and use this across 36 countries. Can you help us do that?” That was when we thought, “There must be others that also need this.” We service Johnson & Johnson, NCR, the big insurance companies here in the Netherlands, where I am, and everyone who is serious about the journey-centric organization that needs a proper platform to scale. That’s what we are on a mission to build.
I love how you didn’t build something and hope they will come. You’ve identified a need based on the work you were doing. What’s your favorite part about how that evolved? We’d like to dig into the entrepreneur, him or herself, sometimes. As this was evolving, what got you energized about that pivot that you made?
The first thing was even before the pivot, I used to work at these agencies here and in Amsterdam. First, I have a background in UX design. I was a UX designer doing many projects for many clients. At some point, I decided to go independent. I did contractor assignments and went interim into large organizations. I got a little bit lucky with the placements I found in those large organizations were on the brink of transforming toward more customer-centric workflows.Why aren’t people in their ivory towers connecting with their customers? Click To Tweet
I was lucky to get big assignments done with a small team. The real idea is if there is something that you can do independently, but it has massive impacts on the way businesses connect with people, basically their customers. That was always something that was fascinating to me. Why are people in their ivory towers not connecting with customers? The truth is it’s not because they don’t want to.
It’s because we’ve built systems and processes and how we work in those larger organizations that prevent us from doing that. Making the pivot towards a product company that can help break that down and transform those organizations is good to achieve even though we’re starting small. Getting up from my bed every morning to work on this is phenomenal.
Can you dive in a little bit deeper and describe the difference between customer journey mapping and customer journey management for the audience? There are a lot of people who might know what mapping is, but they may not understand the idea of what management is.
Let me try and take a stab at that. You need both. You need a map to manage it, but let me break it down further. A customer journey map is a wonderful tool to create alignment on what the customer does, which she does step-by-step, create a visual depiction of reality, and then understanding when you look at the vertical lanes or layers that support that journey. What do we do as a business?
At the front stage, we have some marketing materials and landing pages. We have a bunch of features before you even sign up for a product or do something on our digital platforms with us. At the backstage, we have all these data layers and processes that happen that the customer doesn’t see. We can go into much detail there.
The customer journey map is a tool to create an overview and alignment between all the teams and the customer experience. The map is typically too big because we make the entire customer life cycle in one overview or too small because we’re looking at a detailed little journey that we influence. Let’s say opening a bank account. It is a very tiny detail of the end-to-end customer experience.
The map itself is a way to align. If you want to do this at scale, you need a management process to not only look at the customer journeys that you have, map them out, understand them, designing them, but also start to create a workflow from insight to implementation that unifies all the teams that understand, “Are there any opportunities or problems that we see in this particular journey?” We understand that our customer experience is made out of dozens, maybe hundreds of journeys.
We see them all together. All the priorities and problems from these journeys together give a completely different idea of what prioritization means, what features we should build, and what communication or campaigns we should run. That is the management aspect that uses journeys to communicate and align managing the business, using the customer at the center of it all.
It’s interesting. I know a lot of people that start the journey mapping process with a marketing persona. We’ve got Bob, Sally, and Jim. They’ve got these different personas and go through that process. To your point, there could be hundreds of journeys. I recognized that in the hotel industry years ago that we had a lot of different reasons that people came to our hotel and a lot of different ways they used our hotels. How do you communicate that effectively and build that into the management process? It’s much bigger than those 3 or 5 personas that marketing is looking at.
You’re going to approach it in two ways. You’re going to look at it from the top-down or the bottom-up. The top-down usually goes into like, “We have a business. We’re in the services industry. We have a hotel and know people like to come here for leisure or business. Bob is for leisure, and Jenny is for business.” That’s where we go. That’s fine. You have to start somewhere. If we don’t know anything, top-down is easy because you can imagine what that would be like. You can go bottom-up and understand. Let’s start talking to the people in hotels. What made you choose this hotel? Why did you come here? How is your trip going so far? What is the intention of your trip?
Start doing a little research and mapping it out from the person step by step. Once you’ve created some overview of what these different people tell you, and you start seeing patterns, you can say, “We’ve created a certain need-based profile persona. This is the Bob we’re seeking to serve, and this is what he needs,” but still, it’s a laborious process of doing it right. If you start bottom-up, it takes a lot of time. If you start top-down, you probably are biased and doing it your way rather than figuring out the customer’s way.
We can talk about all the different other data sources that are at your disposal when you run a hotel that you can use to enhance the journeys and understand what’s going on and what’s useful to do. Understanding the journey is always a good idea because you understand what happens before even checking into the hotel and what happens way after leaving the hotel.
Understanding the whole journey will make you serve your customers better because you understand the reason for joining, their trip, and all the steps that got into making the trip in the first place. If you have all that context, you can help your business understand that you’re doing a way better job than figuring out what you already know.
I know that Tony is 100% geeking out on this, especially with the hotel example, since that’s the world he came from in terms of analytics. Tell us a little bit about how you go to market and find customers. Which industries are resonating with the work you do? The second part to that question is from an educational standpoint. How much educating do you have to do to the market when you’re out there talking about your product?
Let’s also talk about the buying journey as we like to call it. We started with the biggest companies in the world because the bigger the company, the bigger the complexity, and the bigger the problem is to align across teams and functions. That’s where we start. We know that these people in the organization whom you talk to are service design, customer experience management, or experience design.
Those are the typical bodies in the organization where this work looks at the holistic whole of the customer experience. That’s where we usually start with. Those people look for solutions to scale their practice. They look for journey mapping. They go to Google and look around what’s going on there, but there are a lot of other keywords that we found out that people are looking for, like life cycle and customer experience management. That is not only about the data.We should be managing customer journeys like we’re managing products. Click To Tweet
We have a little marketing machine set up that says, “If you are looking for a solution, we’re going to help you find it. Our sales team is going to help you buy it.” Our go-to-market is 100% online. We rely on inbound and help people that are already looking with the intention to scale our practice and find a journey management solution. I believe we’re one of the few out there that can deliver things beyond the map.
I’m intrigued by this whole approach that you’re taking. I want to step back here. I know Betsy and I are bouncing back and forth. For the audience, we’re all over the place having a good conversation here. Early in your description, you said we should manage journeys like we manage products. I’m intrigued by that.
You went on to say the journey-centric organization. I’m intrigued by this because I’ve been talking about the transformation economy for several years now. That’s not my concept. I forgot the authors’ names, but I quote them all the time. The whole idea is that we’re moving from an experience economy into a transformation economy where people want to be guided through, learn, grow and become different people.
When I think of a hero’s journey, it’s all about becoming a different person. Every good story is about the hero going from being an average guy or gal to being something significant. My view of customer experience is like, “We can make memories.” That’s great. We can get good positive emotions, but how do we help the person be the hero of their journey? When you start talking about journey centric and managing this at the journey as a product, it sounds very much like transformation, as opposed to pure experience focus. Is that an accurate assessment of what you see emerging in the marketplace?
There are two dimensions here at play. The first one speaks to what you’re saying. We are in a transformation around customer experience and maybe not so specifically around the hero’s journey or in your organization. What I see is that the customer experience is now the strategy, however you want to fill that in. If that means Amazon, for instance, their customer experience is about speed and lower prices. That is the customer experience there.
It doesn’t need to be like all fluffy, white-glove, amazing feelings. Customer experience can mean different things to different businesses. We all agree that customer experience is the holy grail in business. It’s defined as one of the most important KPIs, which makes the organization focused on customer experience. The problem is that agile and digital transformation was done over the last decade or several years, and everyone seems to be focused on the product.
The experience was part of UX, the product team, or the user experience in your organization. Now, the premium is on customer experience. It is not only a product. It’s also sales, marketing, and operations. Everyone in your organization needs to add up to the customer experience. Lo and behold, everyone has a different idea of, “Who is the customer? What is it important to influence the customer experience? How can we improve this?” That is what we see.
Therefore, people tend to navigate or trend towards using journeys because those are transformational in themselves. They cross the boundaries of the departments using the customer as the reference point, but taking every department by the hand and say, “Together, we make this journey a reality and manage all of these journeys in your organization.”
If you’re Amazon and your customer experience is speed, there is nothing of a real hero’s journey to form. It’s about understanding the customer journey and improving for speed, but it means different things for marketing, product, UX, and sales. Everyone together needs to understand that journey and how to do that. That is what we see in one part.
The other one, when we say you need to manage journeys the way you manage products, is a more tricky one. In product development, you have the source of truth, which is the digital product. It’s an app, a website, or a platform. You can go, login, or tinker with the features there. You can experience what it is like to use it.
You have the workflow as managed in a different environment in Jira or Azure DevOps, or those environments where people have their backlog, roadmap, product increments, QPRs, whatever prioritization is going on, and their prints, the planning, the tasks, and everything. That’s the separate workflows. In journey management or even customer experience management, the reality is about the experience. It’s about human emotions and feelings. How tangible do you want to make that? It’s almost impossible.
When you want to apply a journey-centric mindset or management philosophy in your organization, your job is to recreate reality using journeys, building up to the customer life cycle and how all these journeys are connected and stacking up. That becomes your reality, and you can layer on a workflow that says, “Here’s how we go from insight to implementation that cuts across all these different departments.” By making the un-tangible tangible, journey-centric organizations do a better job than product or marketing or process-led organizations.
Since this goes across the entire organization, who is the point person you guys work with? Without giving up any confidential information or company names, do you have a couple of stories you could share with us on some of the impacts this journey management mindset has produced for you and your clients?
The typical organization, or at least the people involved at the early start of this in an organization, is mainly focused on service design. Sometimes it’s in the experience design group in an organization, but that’s the makers. Those are the people that already do discovery work. They already have research practices and know and use journeys in their day-to-day. They are now tasked to map out the end-to-end experience to understand the whole business. That’s usually their task.
They’re propelled or funded or get resources from the modern CX leaders in the organization, whether it’s a CXO or a team of customer experience managers. Sometimes it’s instilled into design groups. Sometimes it’s in the marketing groups where this started, but that is usually where we enter a company.
What you then see is that depending on whether you’re a global company with multiple operating countries or companies in the different parts of the world, or you have a product that has different lives across different regions, you can see it like that specific team, a small team, is usually tasked with laying the foundation, creating best practices, and taking everyone on board in transforming into a journey-centric company.Customer experience is the holy grail in business. Click To Tweet
What we typically find a good example is one of the larger recruiting and staffing firms globally. When we worked with them, we were still a little bit in a consulting mode. It was like the early days for our product. They figured out that if we want to be journey-centric, we need to bring in all the contexts of different countries. We set out a pilot in Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, and Portugal.
We went there to interview talents, people that were looking for a job or had a job, and were looking for a new job. This firm was about finding the next job for them, placing them and making them happy, and making sure they can progress in their career by jumping to the next job. They found that across all these different regions and the different needs of the people that were work from home moms versus builders versus nurses in the UK, there were different roles and perspectives on lives.
There were a lot of commonalities in how to approach the job-seeking and get the job, but the job itself, plus the local way of handling things, made for a local variation. Applying that together could create a best practice journey for finding the next job based on your current job for them. They allowed all the different operating countries to have their localized versions of that journey in place. They could fit and tailor it towards the market needs.
In a bigger scope of things, they could compare to journeys one-on-one because they were similar enough to understand, “Are we doing a great job or not?” That requires some practice in the organization, some trial and error, and you need some people that know what they’re doing but keeping that local aspect in place is geography-based. The same goes if you have different services or products or are tailoring towards a B2B and B2C environment. You can still make the same decisions and the same base, standardize our way of working and allow for local variations into teams.
How do the journey management processes align with the CRM? How do you balance the customer journey management and the CRM side of things? The CRM is very focused on an individual, typically product-based, versus this broader view of the journey itself.
That is a big challenge. You were spot on. This is a big difference between having personal data and individual user data to work with and drill in on what is this person or this organization that he or she belongs to doing versus using aggregated data, building a pattern library, and understanding the bigger scope of a journey for your different personas, customer segments, or groups of people that are doing the things you hoped or want them to do.
They go hand-in-hand because journeys are a tool to align, especially internally, not necessarily to understand what personalization we should send this person or that person and where are they in their journey. That is what is called journey orchestration. I’m still a little confused with the term because here in Europe, orchestration is also coordination between journeys, but maybe that’s a different topic for another day.
The journey orchestration tools are about personalizing a communication flow based on some data they got from the CRM, your behavior, and maybe some AI modeling on the general trend of what people do. This is different. This sits more into using journeys to gauge the emotion, the intention of people, what it makes them feel, and how they experience or perceive buying, using, or sharing your product and service. Taking that into the company and say, “This is what we know, and this is strategically where we want to go. How can we reset priorities? How can we understand what to do next and why?”
Let human creativity flow not only by the designers but also by the product managers and the marketers. Help all of them understand the same things in the same way so they can make that decision about what to build, create, or ship together, and maybe set off a personalization flow based on data from the CRM or an AI that is helping to make it personal. That is more likely the solution or the end of the till. The journey is what we’re talking about alignment and creating a unified version of customer experience that everyone can understand.
You’ve told us where you are. It’s so fascinating to think about how in-depth this goes. We love the emotion part and how it makes them feel. All of that is so cool. What’s on the radar for you? What are you looking at down the road for your organization?
In the short term, it’s pretty simple. Tony already mentioned CRM. There are also some big data parties around CX that can’t wait to get integrated where we can start to build the bridges between what people have, dashboards, whiteboard presentations, and bringing that all together in the journey framework.
That is, in the short-term, one by one of the integrations, API connections that we’re building so that the teams can also start manipulating, tinkering, and analyzing the data they already have in the context of the journey framework. That’s the easy one. It is making smarter tools for prioritization, alignment, and making the workflow. That is in the short term.
In the bigger scheme of things, there are two trends. One is the orchestration trend that people want to automate and personalize everything. Before that, understand why you’re doing that in the first place. There will also be a little bridging between going too far in the future, automating everything, staying a little here, and helping teams make data-driven decisions based on qualitative inputs. That is a very important topic that we’re onto.
The bigger trend I’m seeing is that people get more control over their data. Think about GDPR in Europe. It’s one part of that. Our tools and gadgets have become more sophisticated in measuring what we feel and how we feel it, from heart rate variability to all the other things that we could potentially measure. That trend will grow bigger.
With more control over your data, we’re heading towards a world where you, as a brand, need to ask permission, and the customer grants you permission to use part of their experience data in the first place. That flips things upside down, giving control back to the consumer where he or she can say, “I like you. You can use my data for your innovation or marketing.” That will be a very interesting dynamic we see, but to me, that’s still years down the road before we see any significant changes there.
You got me excited when you started talking about the different sensors because it’s the difference between what we’ve been doing for years for self-reported experience versus measurable experience. I can’t wait for those days to come because they will reveal a lot of interesting things for us. That’s ways off yet. I’ve been waiting for that.Journeys are a tool to align, especially internally. Click To Tweet
I hope we’re still around when the time comes and build some awesome tools, bringing the connections between people in businesses closer together. I would love to see that as well.
You get the instantaneous journey orchestration as you’re getting the biofeedback from the individuals as they have the experience.
Don’t you think it’s a little bit scary as well? People tell white lies all day, and you can’t anymore. Can I tell you about my great experience with the 10% discount voucher? No, you can’t do that in the future anymore. What do we do with all our data?
There are no five-star experiences anymore. I’m going to go a little down this path because it’s an interesting place. This is true as we look at journeys. It wasn’t that long ago when we used the survey. It’s almost a transactional experience. We looked at that like, “This is the epitome of what we can get to.”
I worked several years ago with large financial services firm in the US. We took it a step further. We start looking at multiple engagements, multiple surveys, emails, and contacts and other stuff. We started weaving it together to understand over a six-month period what moved the person to make this decision to cancel their account or to sign up for a new account.
We start stitching together those transactions and the individual pieces of data. When you look at a journey now, it’s becoming much more integrated and easier. It’s still a lot of hard work. There’s that question, “Where do we go when we’re looking at journeys and transactions? How do they interact with one another?”
As you’ve said, we’ve got to know more than what the customer is doing with us. We’ve got to know what happens before and after they get to us. The actual user design used to be all about what was on screen. It started expanding into what they do after they get off-screen. Where’s that going? How do we define that?
I believe journeys are such a powerful and easy way to do this. Let’s say you have something more sophisticated now. You can read it based on all the call center data and interactions with service reps. You can do a sentiment analysis around what a group of people thinks or feel when something is not right, but it still happens all-around one particular step in their journey. It doesn’t matter whether it’s to check out or a service point in their customer experience.
You can pinpoint it to one step. A journey is an alignment tool internally. We are visual creatures. Most of us can see. On this point, here’s a sentiment analysis that tells us that, “People are frustrated. Here’s an opportunity for us as a business to do something about it.” It’s still very relevant to understand, “What journey is this part of? What were people trying to do? Why are they not succeeding? For the people that are succeeding, what comes next? What other steps follow until someone buys the product or finds something as a solution for their aching itch?”
To have that as a whole reference and understand where this little analysis came from and where the data we’re now seeing sits in the bigger scheme of things to give more context and clarity. As we are human beings working for large organizations, it’s trying to make our services products better and sell them to people or help the people to buy. It’s always having the context of what it means is useful, whether it’s a data-driven, survey driven, or based on five interviews.
I can’t believe how fast this conversation has gone. Unfortunately, we are about at the end of our time with you. As you are probably aware, we’d like to invite our guests to talk about a nonprofit or a charitable organization they are affinity for. Is there an organization you’d like to shout out for?
My Co-Founder, Charles, runs a small little endeavor to bring energy aggregates to Ukraine at the moment. They get funding from anyone, friends, family, and people who want to fund them. Whenever they have enough, they buy a few aggregates and drive them to the border around Odessa. Please fund these guys because they deliver, and it’s the closest you can get to reality there. That’s a great cause to support.
Thank you for sharing that. Tony, any final questions? I know you could talk for days. I’m fascinated as well. I know the way your brain works. I know this conversation is fascinating for you as well. Any final questions?
I’ll cut myself off because I have 3 or 4 questions, but we’ll have to do another show for those.
We’ll have you back, Jochem, because Tony’s got lots more questions.
It’s my pleasure. I’d love to be back again.
Thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. Good luck with everything you’re doing. We will certainly be following your progress and your success.It’s almost like the Jetsons for the customer experience. Click To Tweet
Thanks for having me on Betsy and Tony. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Thank you so much.
It’s such a great interview with him. This is amazing. There are a couple of quotes I want to pull out here. Jochem said, “Manage your journey like you manage your product.” That is so powerful and illuminates the difference between customer journey mapping, which you use to update your products, and this whole idea of customer journey management. He talked about the journey-centric organization. That is so deep and so much more powerful than thinking of customer-centric. It is customer-centric, but it’s the next generation of customer-centricity.
What I love about this is thinking about how you can see his wheels spinning about innovation like, “This is what’s already been done. This is what’s being done.” He’s thinking three steps down the road and many years down the road as he shared with us where he sees things going in the next 7 to 10 years. It’s fascinating when we have guests on our show that are already doing some cool stuff, but that’s the starting point. Where he wants to go is fascinating.
It is going to turn this part of the customer experience upside down. It’s going to be fun to watch. With that, Tony, great conversation. It’s always great to do this show with you. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please give it a like. We appreciate your reviews on whatever podcast platform you choose to listen to. Hit the notification button to find out when we have new episodes coming out. Until then, we will see you next time on the REALLY Know Your Customer podcast.