Today’s modern digital or information age has brought massive changes to the way companies do business. More importantly, it has also changed the expectations customers have. Nowadays, customer experience is just as important (if not more) as the product or service itself.
Understanding the experience your clients have at every stage of their journey with you is crucial for improving your processes and increasing customer retention. That is where customer journey mapping comes in.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is simply a visual diagram or storyline of the entire customer journey with your brand or business.
It tells the story of every engagement each customer has with your product, service, or brand across all possible touch points. These include interactions done through various personal and digital customer engagement channels.
A journey map looks at your business from the customer’s perspective. It allows you to see your business’ strengths and pain points. Furthermore, it can highlight points of improvement across the customer lifecycle that you can then look into.
What is Customer Journey Mapping?
Customer journey mapping is also known as user journey mapping or simply CJM. It is the process of mapping the customer or user experience (CX), and ensuring that no customer slips through cracks.
This process creates visual representations of the experiences your clients have with your brand. It is a tool used by business leaders in understanding customer needs to personalize the customer experience. In the end, this leads to better service.
The customer journey typically begins with how they first heard of your brand. It then progresses to their direct interactions with your products and services. Lastly, it goes all the way down to their post purchase feedback and behaviors.
Customer journey mapping starts by identifying the numerous customer touchpoints. This includes websites, social media channels, and other forms of advertising. Also included here are the various interaction points clients may have with marketing and customer service teams.
Next, user journeys across those touchpoints are mapped out for every buyer persona.
Millennial buyers, for example, typically become aware of products on social media. They then research those products or services on the mobile version of the company’s website. Finally, they make their purchase using a desktop computer.
That customer’s touchpoints should then be included in the customer journey map. In turn, the map should indicate what actions the customer needs to take and your brand’s response at every turn.
Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?
Customer journey mapping is a crucial, strategic approach to gaining insights into customer behavior and understanding the emotions and motivations that drive their decisions. This exercise is a great way to see things from the client’s point of view, thus ensuring better customer satisfaction.
Customer journey mapping may seem like a daunting task reserved only for large corporations. However, it remains equally important for small and medium enterprises as well. Some of its many benefits include:
- Understanding your customers better
“Are my business’ online interfaces easy to navigate? Why do they move away from our website and pages quickly?”
“How often do my clients need to reach out to us? Is my support team able to address their needs promptly? What do the clients feel when they can’t connect with our team?”
These are some of the questions you’ll be able to answer if you perform customer journey mapping. Having that ability to build empathy for your clients and know exactly how they feel at every turn is a critical attribute.
It will allow you to get to know your customers better and tailor fit the experience to meet their demands. Ultimately, this results in you outperforming your competitors, and ensuring customer loyalty by providing interconnected, customer-centric service in all aspects of your business.
- Providing a service blueprint for your employees
Customer journey mapping also gives you and your employees a guide on interacting with clients. It acts as a tool in assessing your company’s practices and determining whether they meet customer expectations.
A customer journey map is easy to present in different company-wide meetings, allowing you to map your company’s goals with ease.
Additionally, your marketing team can also use it to strategize and minimize obstacles encountered throughout the customer lifecycle.
Tips in Making an Effective Customer Journey Map
1. Represent Your Customer’s Perception of Your Brand
Great customer journey maps represent the way your customers see your brand. It is not simply the way you believe they see it.
Often, this means including a lot of aspects that are not within your control. Examples of this include web searches, social media influences, and the steps they take even before they enter the picture.
The insights that this will create will help you avoid wasting resources on efforts that don’t produce new customers. Instead, you will be able to focus more on the goals that will help you build relationships.
2. Do Your Research
Internal staff alone is not enough for you to establish an accurate and realistic customer journey map. You’ll have to do your research to make sure that your map is thorough.
This will include interviews, surveys, ethnographies, and other types of marketing and customer research that will help you understand your clients better.
Qualitative research is often a good starting point. Your customer’s touch points typically involve emotional responses and interactions that may be a surprise to you. Afterward, you may then use quantitative surveys to verify the results of your initial research.
Some companies even bring customers in to work hand-in-hand with them in building the customer journey map. However, this may present the risk of bias that can result from having only a small sample.
Regardless of your approach, it is best to do customer research first to lay the foundations of your map. Later on, you can build on the information gathered from your research.
3. Recognize and Represent Different Customer Personas
Different customers have different needs. Effective customer journey mapping involves the ability to distinguish customers based on their demands.
The solution: Identify these distinct qualities and separate them into segments. Afterward, build fitting customer personas that represent those segments.
A fitting customer persona is a fictional character that is representative of your average customer. Of course, this should depend on market and user research, not just on gut feel.
Make sure to have a profile of this persona. This should include his age, personal goals, job function, and many more. This will help you step into the customer’s shoes better and create a more thorough story.
Start with about three personas at most to help you narrow down your design and character focus. Later on, you can add more personas for more complex market environments.
Additionally, you can also include the customers “that got away” or those who chose to bring their business somewhere else. This will also shed light on the differences their experiences had with those who you were able to convert successfully.
4. Consider Customer Goals
A successful customer journey map should be able to identify the customers’ goals at every stage of the experience. It should also reflect how those goals evolve throughout their journey.
5. Highlight Emotions
Emotions function as the key motivator behind consumer or user decisions. Because of this, they should play a central role in your customer journey mapping exercise. After all, even in the largest organizations, decisions are still made by human beings.
Be visual. Don’t be afraid to use different styles, colors, and graphic elements to depict how your customers feel throughout their journey. With the amount of graphic tools available today, it seems lazy to use smileys and emojis to convey emotions.
6. Enumerate All Customer Touchpoints
Touchpoints are the moments where your customer has an interaction with your brand. These include advertisements, thank you letters, and even post purchase concerns.
Everytime a customer engages your brand, remember that that action is goal-driven. Break these down into different phases or stages depending on the need of the customer throughout the journey. This will also allow you to understand better the order and type of every touchpoint.
Make sure to include even those which you have little control over. Examples of these are referrals from friends or the customer’s personal online research. These touchpoints are often crucial, and will help you show how much your brand is able to generate organic interest.
7. Pay Attention to Moments of Truth
While all touchpoints are important, the results and impact they produce can still vary. Those interactions that have a greater impact on the customer’s overall perception of the journey are the so-called “Moments of Truth.”
Identifying these Moments of Truth will allow you to pinpoint key opportunities in the customer journey. In these opportunities, your efforts for improvement will produce the greatest return.
The outcomes of these crucial interactions may spell the difference between a customer no longer engaging your brand and them acting as ambassadors who will recommend it to their friends and relatives.
8. Evaluate Your Brand Promise
Customer journey mapping should reveal how your brand’s promises align with the customers’ actual experiences. It will also highlight any issues if you are falling short of those promises.
Effective customer journey maps show whether your customers believe that you are delivering. If not, it will also show how much their disappointment means in terms of increased expenses or lost sales.
9. Measure Time
The length of time a customer spends in each stage of his journey will also be shown in a successful customer journey map.
Does an average call take 15 minutes, or is it done in an hour? How long did it take for a customer to decide to purchase your products from the first time he or she interacted with your brand?
Great customer journey maps recognize the importance of time in the customer experience. They build solutions with these considerations in mind.
10. Ditch the Powerpoint
The overarching story that a customer journey map is telling should be obvious at first glance. An effective map, however, should also be designed to be studied with its nuances revealed once poured over.
Unfortunately, too many people make the mistake of creating customer journey maps for the sole purpose of presenting them on a screen. They would support this with bullet points about the information the map holds. Customer journey maps should exceed these norms.
A customer journey map that truly holds value should allow you to dive deeper into the story. It should be rich in detail as it conveys freely, clearly, and effectively the entire customer journey and experience.
If possible, you can even weave the words of your clients in the map. Add in what they actually said about the experience. This will help add dimensions into the map and help your stakeholders relate to the story better.
Customer expectations are currently undergoing a massive transformation. By doing customer journey mapping, you can ensure that every stage of the customers’ journey is smooth and their experiences are optimized.
Do you have other questions about customer journey mapping? Ask us in the comments section below!