Customer journey mapping has become a popular and effective way for brands and businesses to visualize, understand and hopefully improve the experiences of their customers. But many are still discouraged from creating these powerful tools due to perceived complexity. This post aims to dispel those fears and get you started with customer journey mapping.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of every stage of engagement experienced by your customers. Customer journeys can be extremely varied and are often complex. By mapping every channel through which customers come into contact with your business, every touchpoint and every experience they have businesses are better able to view these experiences from the customer’s perspective. This process provides extremely valuable insight that can identify areas that require attention to improve customer experience and help retain customers.
Since no two customer journeys are the same there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ template that can be applied. You need to be aware that the optimum design will vary depending on the business, product or service which is being mapped and what’s required at the very end of the process.
Why You Need Customer Journey Mapping
Today’s customers have high expectations. They want personalized experiences and expect companies to be fully aware of who they are, their purchase history and what their needs and desires are. Customer journey mapping makes a valuable contribution toward meeting this increasingly high expectations.
Some of the key benefits provided by customer journey mapping are these:
- Identifying all touchpoints where customers interact with your business.
- Visualizing the interaction and buying process from the customer’s perspective.
- Identifying the needs of customers at every touchpoint.
- Highlighting opportunities to improve customer experience.
- Helping departments in your business provide consistent, high quality customer experience in all areas.
- Reducing the cost of customer service by improving customer experience.
- Gain more revenue from increased sales from upselling and cross selling.
- Support resource planning and future requirements.
It should be clear that customer journey mapping provides nothing but benefits. So if you have not yet started using this technique perhaps now is the time to start. Before starting its always a good idea to consider your own objectives and what you want to achieve from the process.
How to Create Your Customer Journey Map
The final output from the customer journey mapping process is the map. The visual document, which might be in spreadsheet format, generally provides the following.
- The channels through which customers interact with your business.
- Each of the steps taken by customers.
- Their expectations at each step, their emotions and concerns.
- The outcome that customers seek at each step.
- The ideal outcomes for your business.
- Opportunities in the journey to over-deliver and impress the customer.
Keep in mind that the overall goal of customer journey mapping is to derive a deep and actionable understanding of your customers’ experiences and what they expect and desire at every stage of their journeys, from need to fulfilment.
The Traditional Customer Journey
Customer journey mapping is often based upon what is now considered to be the superseded traditional customer journey model:
Awareness > Familiarity > Consideration > Purchase > Loyalty
This buyer journey is often boiled down to just three key stages:
Awareness > Evaluation > Purchase
But consumers have changed the way in which they make purchasing decisions so this simple linear model is no longer very valid. These days consumers are far more aware of brands way before they have identified a need that might be fulfilled by those brands. Their final purchasing decision (which brand to buy from) might be made right at the moment of purchase.
Nevertheless, the traditional view of the customer journey provides a useful starting point that will help you identify the key stages that apply specifically to your business.
Identify Your Customer Journey Stages
This traditional view of the buyer journey should help you to identify the key stages that your own customers go through when they interact with your business. For example, the following 4 x stage model might apply to a site offering a free trial survey tool which leads customers to become signed up subscribers.
- Discovery and awareness: People searching for a survey tool become aware of the free trial offer.
- Evaluation and consideration: People sign up for the free trial and carry out some test surveys to evaluate the service.
- Paid subscription or purchase: Having satisfactorily trialled the tool and service they proceed to become paying customers.
- Loyalty and advocacy: Customers are happy to continue with their subscription and use word-of-mouth to promote the product and service.
Define Your Customer Personas
Another key early step in creating your customer journey map is to understand exactly who your customers are.
Define a representative collection of buyer personas based on factors such as demographics and backgrounds. These should include some details of their likes and dislikes, their behaviour, priorities and how they might respond at various touchpoints.
Understand and Define Your Customer Goals
Using your defined customer personas you can define what their goals are at each stage of their journey. Various techniques can be used to gather this valuable data.
- Use analytics data such as Google analytics to determine what people do on your website.
- Examine the questions and queries submitted by customers at each stage of the process.
- Look at your customer support requests to identify common challenges and issues.
- Carry out customer surveys to elicit feedback.
Goals should be defined for each of the stages in your customer journey. For example, goals that apply at the example discovery and awareness stage for the ‘free survey tools’ example might include:
- Identify free survey tools.
- Compare the capabilities of free survey tools.
- Compare the ongoing costs of various survey tools.
Identify Communication Channels
Keep in mind that communication takes place in two directions so you are not only identifying channels through which prospects and customers communicate with your business but also those through which outward communications from your business is carried out. Typically these might include:
- Your website
- Your social media channels
- Email marketing
- Paid search advertising
- Social media advertising
- Identify All Touchpoints
Touchpoints are not only points in time and mechanisms through which your customers interact with your organisation. They also include every point at which your customer comes into contact with your brand. These may include various forms of both online and offline promotion and marketing.
Customer surveys are a good way to help identify all of these.
Collate Data and Identify Issues
By gathering all of this data together you should be able to identify areas in which issues exist in the customer journey. For example, you might determine that, during the ‘discovery and awareness’ stage people report having difficulty finding the information they seek on your website. Ensuring that their questions are answered exactly where they want to find those answers will fulfil their needs and fix this issue.
You may also identify areas in which you need further, deeper information along with areas in which your business is already doing well.
Compiling and collating data into a customer journey map will surface areas in which improvements can be beneficially made. It is often useful to categorise and prioritise the fixes that need be carried out. Keep in mind that your overall goal is to improve the overall experience of your customers, provide them with exactly what they want, when they want it and in the format they want it in. This will promote customer engagement, foster customer loyalty and maximise the customer value.
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