While many brands are aware of the concept of customer journey mapping as a way of capturing customer experience across touchpoints, many smaller businesses are reticent to actually attempt it.
They perceive it as something abstract and overwhelming, when in reality, it involves a series of logical steps based on understanding your customer and collecting relevant data.
Step 1: Gather Existing Research
Effective research is the foundation you need to build an accurate customer journey map. Now, you might be wondering why this is necessary, since you probably already have plenty of information about your users or customers.
The research aspect of creating a customer journey map is often met with resistance within an organisation, which is why compiling existing research can be a good and broadly agreeable starting point.
The next step is to figure out how relevant this research really is, which requires you to drill down into your audience.
Step 2: Use the Customer Persona as a Starting Point
Dividing your target audience into separate personas can help you gain a more nuanced view of how each moment of truth will affect a customer’s brand perception. Begin by selecting a segment of your audience that is particularly pivotal to your business goals and try to answer some key questions:
1) Where is the person in his or her customer lifecycle (acquisition, onboarding, retention, advocacy)?
2) Within this stage, can you pinpoint precisely what you need from the customer (e.g. sharing a piece of content)?
You could also look at broader questions, such as the customer’s daily routine, challenges, professional background and preferred content types.
Once you’ve answered these, you’re in a position to begin crafting the story.
Step 3: Collect Relevant Data
Armed with the knowledge above, you can set about collecting data with confidence. How, when and where does your persona engage with certain content? Your objective is to draw up a comprehensive picture of how they interact with your brand.
There are two ways of doing this: analytical and anecdotal research:
The most obvious source of data about users is website analytics, which can reveal how a user was referred to you, which pages they viewed, how long they stayed, and which links they clicked on your website. Where applicable, it can also reveal where they gave up.
However, be sure to understand this data for what it really means; for example, a lot of clicks might not indicate a happy user, but rather one who finds your website uninve.
Search data reveals what they are most often looking for, while social analytics tools can track what users are saying about your brand. You could also track information such as email workflows and open rates for email campaigns.
Anecdotal (qualitative) research:
Anecdotes of user experiences are the other side of the story. Sometimes, they might be required to round out your analytical research; other times, they could provide a starting point for selecting the most right analytical studies (e.g. for explaining a certain user reaction).
If you can’t get customers to sit down and talk, there are other ways of accessing their opinions - analysing reviews or online comments, for example, which can be highly insightful.
You could also interview the people who have the most regular contact with them, such as salespeople and support staff; however, keep in mind that no one individual will see the entire journey, and as such, no one person’s opinion should be allowed to “steamroll” others into submission.
Focusing on your primary customer persona(s) and making educated guesses for the rest will help to save time and costs, though you should never lose sight of what is an assumption and what is supported by fact.
Once you are confident that your research has provided you with a solid base, the easiest way to kick off the practical part of the process is to hold an internal workshop.
Step 4: Initiate an Internal Workshop
It is important that the workshop is viewed as a practical tool for determining what customers want, not a training exercise. Employees must be prepared to think like a customer, and should be introduced to this concept in advance.
Both the analytical data and customer input play an important role in the workshop context, since they prevent staff members from presenting their perceptions as hard facts and engendering an “inside looking out” bias.
Ultimately, the aim of the internal workshop is to look at all the data you’ve gathered and summarise and represent it as a series of stages or steps. Once you’ve got your customer journey on paper, you can start thinking about how best to represent it visually.