The theme of loyalty runs throughout this award-winning HBO show \u2026 you have bannermen swearing fealty to their lords, lords pledging loyalty to their king, families remaining loyal within themselves, and alliances between kingdoms. But the medieval fantasy TV series is set in a time of change, when loyalties are put to the test.\nI might equate the loyalty of customers to individual companies today with the loyalty demonstrated in GoT. Loyalties last only as long as the relationship serves those who pledge their loyalty. If there\u2019s a poor encounter with a company or a bad interaction with a king, all bets are off.\nWhat does this mean for companies trying to cultivate loyalty from their customers?\nEven if you have the biggest, best, clearest, cutest, fastest, first, most advanced mousetrap, if customers experience friction with your company\u2026 some difficulty or frustration finding it, ordering it, paying for it, getting it delivered, assembling it, accessing customer support, etc. \u2026 you have problems in your customer journey that need attention. If the total experience \u2026 all along the journey \u2026 isn\u2019t good, your buyers may abandon their buying trip at any point along the way.\nThis led me to think about what long-standing customer satisfaction research has revealed \u2026 that satisfied customers will tell a friend about a good experience, but unsatisfied customers will tell nine people. Today, with the power of social media, it could be millions of people who hear bad things about your company, negatively affecting your net promotion score.\nIf we go back to GoT, if the king doesn\u2019t know when his loyal followers become unhappy, he could be dethroned or face a war. So, it behooves him to find out what his followers like and dislike if he wants to remain the leader of his kingdom, The same holds true for every company today if they want to remain market leaders. Too many companies still focus only on creating the next product, and don\u2019t pay enough attention to interactions with customers. Others don\u2019t bother to check on customer touchpoints all along the journey; they take for granted that their customers are sufficiently happy with their experiences.\nManaging the customer journey is how market leaders remain leaders\nThey actively craft positive customer experiences so that buyers choose them over competitors. They don\u2019t focus solely on how many mousetraps were shipped that day, but pay very close attention to how they interact with customers throughout the entire journey.\n\nWhat can you do so that you know what your customers want and expect?Be sure your company has the capability and the proper tools to identify and map the customer journey and every touchpoint along the way where customers interact with your company.\nIdentify touchpoints that create unhappy customers and repair them quickly. Don\u2019t dismiss problems in touchpoints that deal with delivery, payments, access, etc. by saying they don\u2019t matter ... they often matter as much, or more, than the product.\nRecognize the moments of truth, when you could actually lose the customer.\nFind the places where you can innovate with new products or services and use your customer journey tools to understand how this may change your processes and the need for different resources. Carefully consider how these new touchpoints may affect buyer loyalty and incorporate them quickly into the complete map of the customer journey.\n\nGoing even further, understanding the customer journey can help you develop your digital vision that can then make it possible to understand future customer expectations \u2026 what customers dream about getting from you and how they get it.\nBy mapping the end-to-end customer experience and ranking touchpoints, you\u2019ll get a clear view of where you need to optimize the customer journey and invest in changes or improvements. You can go even further and link this information with data about your company\u2019s internal processes and business resources so that you can make well-supported decisions going forward.\nMost companies aren\u2019t dealing today with kings or dragons, dark secrets or betrayals, but there\u2019s much in GoT that tells us we should continuously demonstrate customer excellence. We can only do that if we understand each step of the customer journey.