An introduction to customer journey mapping
As a customer experience professional, you understand the importance of knowing your customer.
Your customers interact with your organisation in a variety of ways. With the increasing complexity of interactions online and offline you’d think customer journey mapping features in most organisations’ customer experience (CX) plans.
Yet, even though 81% of companies believe customer experience is a competitive advantage, only 8% report having a joined up omnichannel strategy. A full 33% admit they’re unable to track customer journeys at all.
It makes sense to spend some time creating your customer journey map – 71% of brands say that customer journey mapping has reduced their customer service costs by up to 20%. A further 77% of consumers say they view brands more favourably when they ask for feedback.
We’ll talk about what customer journey mapping is, why customer journey mapping is especially important for offline-first businesses, and how to create your own customer journey map..
What is customer journey mapping?
Your customer journey is the series of touch points your customer experiences as they interact with your brand on their way to making a purchase or after purchasing.
Since 56% of customer interactions happen across channels, there are many opportunities for cost savings, growth, and customer retention for your brand when you deepen your understanding of your customer’s journey. It’s best practice to map out your customer journey so you can identify pain points and opportunities for growth.
A customer journey map is a visual representation of your customer journey from the moment they first interact with your brand all the way through to when they become loyal advocates.
Customer journey mapping will help you step into your customers’ shoes and gain valuable insights into their real-world interactions with your brand – from clicking on your Google ad to stepping into your museum or store.
Your customer journey mapping should seek to address questions such as:
- Which customer segments am I targeting?
- What kinds of behaviours am I looking at – linear or cyclical?
- How can I start from the customer’s perspective?
- How can I recreate experiences across multiple channels and touch points?
- How can I represent important metrics and indicators such as NPS scores?
Customer journey mapping is a work in progress and no doubt you will find many opportunities to change your approach as your needs develop.
Why is customer journey mapping important?
With 84% of consumers saying being treated like an individual is very important to winning their business, it’s critical that you understand your buyers’ desires and pain points at every interaction with your brand.
Customer journey mapping is a strategic tool that helps you create personalised experiences along every step of the customer journey. It helps you meet short-term customer expectations but also gives you a long-term view of their expectations so you can anticipate future needs.
The last mile of the customer journey is an important topic and customer journey mapping can help you identify opportunities for advanced forecasting, optimised delivery, intelligent insights, and real-time tracking.
Customer journey mapping has several benefits, including:
- Uncovering the differences in behaviour between buyer personas
- Creating a logical buying process
- Optimising the onboarding process
- Benchmarking your customers’ experience against predictions
How to create a customer journey map
Your customer journey map will be unique to your organisation’s goals and customers.
There are, however, three broad categories of customer journey maps:
- Current state maps which outline customer interactions in the current state of affairs
- Future state maps which outline an ideal state of affairs
- Day-in-the-life maps which outline the behaviours of different buyer personas
We suggest the following 5 steps in building your customer journey maps:
1. Gather the support of stakeholders
In the modern connected enterprise every department has a stake in the customer experience, not just customer support. Getting everyone involved early in the customer mapping process will help you define requirements and gather feedback further down the line.
2. Conduct customer research
Find out everything you can about your customers through surveys and interviews. You can also use the data you have concerning your interactions with your customers, including your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, social media conversations, customer support calls and complaint logs.
Build a complete picture of your customers using words and phrases you’ve heard them use, adding motivations, expectations, pain points and other emotional elements you’ve been able to gather.
When you’re building a customer journey map, don’t forget to include customers that didn’t purchase to uncover differences in their experiences. This can provide useful insights on their decision-making process, helping you to plug gaps in your product and service offerings you may be unaware of.
3. Create your buyer personas
Armed with the results of your customer research, build a comprehensive profile of your customers. You may have one or several buyer personas. A buyer persona is an idealised profile of a customer but it will help you formulate an understanding of each customer type.
Your buyer persona will also help you understand your customers’ motivations.
These can be:
- Price – At the research stage
- Information and guidance – At the purchasing stage
- Recognition from peers – Post purchase, such as when recommending your product or service to their friends and family
4. Draw your customer journey map
There are many ways (touch points) your customer comes into contact with your brand before, during and after purchasing.
Your map should capture these touch points adequately, highlighting those that have the highest impact. The point of sale is especially important for many businesses because this is the last interaction your would-be customer has with the brand before committing to a purchase.
For long customer journeys, break up your map into phases, taking care to document your customers’ mindset throughout each phase as they try to accomplish different goals.
Start with a customer journey map template if you’re unsure where to start. You may want to ask a graphic designer to give your map a professional finish to maximise its impact on stakeholders.
5. Refine your customer journey map
Use qualitative and quantitative data to identify roadblocks and pain points in your customer journey. Also mark areas where you’re excelling so you can build on them. Where there are roadblocks in your customer journey, drill further into the data and try to figure out where adjustments might have the biggest impact.
As someone who understands the importance of experience, it will come as no surprise that delivering stellar experiences will be a key differentiator for your organisation in the marketplace. What’s not so obvious is how to arrive at that ideal state of affairs.
Customer journey mapping is a tried and tested strategy which has delivered significant results for leading brands. It helps you build a complete picture of the customer experience from a customer’s perspective.
It’s not a set-and-forget process. It’s an evolving document that should adapt to your business goals, customer needs and, of course, the feedback of your customers.