What is Customer Journey Mapping?

 

A customer journey map is a visual representation of every interaction a customer has with a brand along their customer journey. It tells the story of the customer’s experience as they progress through all the touchpoints between customer and organisation, from initial contact and purchasing to the ultimate goal of long-term brand loyalty.

Customer journey mapping draws on the power of storytelling not only to engage customers, but also to provide organisations with valuable, actionable insights regarding how they can better serve these customers. For example, it helps a product designer place their products in context, and content creators to understand what answers their readers are looking for.
 

Why is customer journey mapping so important for the customer experience?

On the surface, a customer’s journey may appear straightforward: your company offers a product or service, the customer hears about it and buys it. Once you dig deeper, however, customer journeys can quickly become complex. There are a number of stages within a customer journey, starting with awareness and ending, if all goes well, with the customer becoming an advocate for your brand.

Where it gets tricky is that each stage is likely to have a number of customer touchpoints, including:

  • Marketing
  • Social media campaigns
  • Word-of-mouth referrals
  • Customer service enquiries
  • Above-the-line campaigns

Each touchpoint is a potential “customer moment of truth”: a key moment in the customer journey where the brand has the opportunity to make a positive impression.

A customer journey map is a powerful tool for helping companies evaluate the quality of the experience the customer receives at each touchpoint. To ensure that no interaction or potential customer slips through the net, it is important for every touchpoint and interaction to be mapped.

What are the benefits of a customer journey map?

With the above in mind, here are a few of the advantages that customer journey mapping can offer your organisation:

  • Achieving an objective perspective on your sales process.
  • Identifying discrepancies between the customer experience desired by your customers and the one they actually receive.
  • Understanding where and how different groups of customers interact with your brand as they move through the sales funnel.
  • Helping you determine whether the customer journey is logically ordered.
  • Gaining an understanding of how broader internal circumstances impact on the customer’s experience.

An objective, thorough, and comprehensive customer journey will give you a solid foundation for customer service success. 

 

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Steps for getting started with customer journey mapping

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:
 

Analytical 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.

What to consider when building a customer journey map

A customer journey map has no set form, and there are no rights or wrongs. It could be an infographic with a timeline of the user’s experience, a storyboard or video. The important thing is to focus on function over form. Use whatever form most clearly communicates your particular customer story.

  • While all touchpoints are important, some are more important than others. For example, print media may likely be a more important part of the “awareness” stage for an insurance company than social media. In turn, print media may not form part of the “awareness” stage for a digital service at all. This will affect the ways these two customer journeys are presented.
  • The map should always be kept relatively simple and should always contain statistical and anecdotal evidence to highlight user questions and feelings at each stage.
  • Avoid getting bogged down in the many variations of a route a user might take; it’s not supposed to be a detailed study.
  • Use tools that show the journey clearly. You can also consider getting a graphic designer to make sure that the information is presented clearly and the key touchpoints are visible at-a-glance.
 

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How is a customer journey map used?

As mentioned above, one of the key benefits of a customer journey map is to help you identify gaps in the customer experience that are disjointed or challenging for the customer.

These could include gaps between...

  • Devices where the user is prevented from switching seamlessly between phone, desktop computer, laptop and tablet when completing a task
  • Departments which might cause a user to give up on the purchase completely
  • Channels where context might not be preserved when moving from social media to email, for example


This information can, in turn, be used to enable your organisation to establish effective development priorities, concentrating your expenditure where it will have the greatest positive impact.

Sealing these gaps will allow the customer to achieve what they want more quickly and prevent the brand being viewed as a siloed organisation - which is increasingly important as customers grow accustomed to interconnectedness in other areas of their lives.

There are many other ways to use customer journey maps to create customer benefits, including identifying discrepancies between promised and actual customer experiences and safeguarding your future in an increasingly digital and complex world.

Steps for getting started with customer journey mapping

With the growing prevalence of sophisticated CRM systems and social analytics tools, many organisations are now proficient at gathering information about their customers and users. However, it is not enough just to have this data; instead, it must be harnessed to effectively address the frustrations and concerns of users.

Particularly in the age of digital products and services, understanding and appealing to your customers’ thoughts and feelings is key - not only to securing the first purchase, but also to keeping customers coming back for more.

Start harnessing the power of customer journey mapping in your organisation to create a more seamless, connected customer journey experience, and increase your positive moments of truth!
 

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