What is a customer journey map?
If surveys are to be taken seriously, it looks like customers are more likely to buy from brands that they trust and enjoy interacting with rather than brands that offer them quality products or products at the lowest prices. So, it stands to reason that customer experience (CX) is just as important - if not more so - as turning out top notch products at a fair price, which we all know is essential for any company's success.
Consumers seek out companies that take time out to build deep relationships through smooth interactions on both sides of the transaction. This is what would then lead to long-term partnerships, which in turn can flourish into positive profit centers in no time flat.
Organizations that have a clear understanding of their customers' needs and wants can expect to see their bottom line soar considerably. One way they can do this is by creating an interactive customer journey map for their clients with all necessary information about how the business will meet those goals in mind from start to finish.
It becomes imperative therefore, that those at the helm of a company’s marketing affairs chart a customer journey map, an approach that is unlike any other form of marketing in its ability to engage with customers at their level. This means that companies should not only focus on what they do, but also on how they communicate and who they serve along the way.
A successful business relies heavily on having a knowledgeable crew that can answer questions about products or services promptly. However, when there are so many different departments and processes within an organization, information and knowledge sharing between each other may not turn out to be the smoothest operation yet.
While there is no shortage of conversations around breaking down organizational barriers, it's important to ask yourself what your customers need before you implement change. The journey towards creating a meaningful alignment with them starts by mapping out their current experiences and expectations in order for companies to serve these individuals who make up its lifeblood better.
The customer journey map is a powerful tool to help you understand your customers better. It helps you identify where they are in their experience with your brand, and what might be confusing or surprising for them at every stage of that process.
If we look closely enough, by analyzing the way people interact as well as why certain decisions resonate more than others, we can discover loopholes in our business strategy, which can be remedied to align not only with current expectations but also future goals.
Why is a customer journey map important?
When you look at how the journey of buying and selling has evolved, you will see that customers now use a wide range of channels to communicate with businesses, which means that the complexity of a customer’s journey has increased dramatically.
First there were the brick and mortar stores, then came the eCommerce stores, followed by marketplaces. And now sellers are simply using plugins of social networks to sell their products.
On top of this change in how people interact, there is also an ongoing need for new types or experiences within your company because old ways no longer suffice. Customer journey mapping is an excellent way to understand your customers better, which will help you optimize their experience.
This strategic approach can be used by any company, no matter how large or small they are, because customer expectations will continue to change in this modern era of technology-driven business practices everywhere.
Mapping out the entire process can be invaluable in optimizing both sides: giving people what they want while also ensuring there isn't anything holding them back from completing transactions with ease.
Benefits of customer journey mapping
Prioritizing on empathy for customers helps businesses build a relationship that provides them an edge over competitors. It also provides a map for implementing customer experience innovation to drive business growth.
This means you can spend less time trying out different things without knowing whether they will work or not in order to make progress with what really matters most - making people happy.
- Helps you find the right audience - Understanding your customers is the most effective way to ensure that you’re providing your products to the right audience, with a personalized approach that caters specifically to their needs. Customer journey maps give businesses an accurate picture of who they should be reaching out to and connects them through available channels.
Helps you fulfil customer goals - In order to provide the best customer experience possible, you need to have in-depth knowledge of what's working for them and where things can be improved upon in their experience with you – right from before they even make any purchases all throughout post purchase follow-ups.
This will help you create a better experience for them and fulfil their goals to the highest degree. When you have a clear understanding of who your customers are, it's easier for designers and businesses to find solutions that meet their needs.
Helps you create better customer experience - For your business to be successful, you need to know exactly where your products or services are falling short of and what customers want from your brand. Journey maps are an excellent way to approach the entire customer lifecycle and understand their needs from every angle.
By addressing these issues in an effective way, while focusing on every single touchpoint, it will not only help you improve customer satisfaction but also lead to higher conversion and quicker sales cycles as well.
Helps break down organizational communication barriers - Companies with multiple departments are vulnerable to the ill-effects of organizational silos, especially when they don’t understand their customers alike. Every business needs to have a customer journey map that helps them understand where their customers are coming from and what they want.
They allow different departments within an organization the ability to communicate effectively with each other, which in turn helps them better understand their customers' needs and goals as they navigate through various stages of purchase throughout a product or service provider's lifespan (or even beyond).
It improves the bottom line - Customer journey mapping is a hot topic in the the world of CX, with over half of all CX professionals using or having used it. And the most common impact that this tool has delivered? An increase in customer satisfaction, lower customer attrition rate and soaring ROIs.
In fact, according to Aberdeen Group report, it has been seen that companies succeeded in achieving 200% more employee engagement and 350% higher revenues when they did customer journey mapping right.
Common mistakes to avoid while making customer journey map
As simple as it may sound, customer journey mapping isn’t all black and white and throws in quite a few curveballs if you’re not careful enough. Having said that, here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid while creating your journey map.
1. Disregarding the importance of customer profile
The demographics of your client's persona are key to their profile creation. Not necessarily because it is what makes them different from other people, but rather this should reflect the type and quality you want for each individual in order to create a realistic profile.
By creating personas, you will be able to sort specific groups among your clientele based on similar preferences that they share and allow them to feel like they are part of the process. This representation, though a composite of different buyers based on similar features, still requires the creation of unique characters, which would come across as real people to empathize with your customers.
In failing to prioritize the creation of customer personas and/or focusing simply on their pain points, even though you’d be offering products they’re looking for, you would be foregoing the chance to relate to them at a personal level. And, in turn they too would hesitate to buy from you for the simple fact that they won’t be sure the products are meant for them in particular.
2. Not segmenting the buyer personas
When companies create a single customer profile, they are ignoring the value of customer segmentation. Instead of aggregating your customers’ journeys and creating strategies based on this average behavior that doesn’t help anyone really, it is better to have different personas that represent specific groups with their own unique needs and wants so you can develop plans specifically tailored towards each group.
Failing to segregate your customers won’t get you far with your target audience because there won’t be enough diversity within each group, which could’ve made sure that all voices are heard loudest when generating solutions.
Persona-based journey maps are great for getting insights into your customers’ preferences and habits. They will make analysis easier because every persona has an individual story and comparing them side-by-side makes understanding where changes need made much more clearer.
3. Mapping from company viewpoint instead of customers'
One of the most common mistakes made when it comes to customer journey mapping is forgetting that customers might want something different than what companies think they want. When you focus on your own perspective instead of theirs, there can be no improvement in service because all attention will go towards satisfying internal needs rather than meeting the expectations of the customers.
This may drastically affect how much trust they put in your brand, which could lead to lost opportunities for you as a business, if it doesn't take into account all aspects of your interaction with them throughout every stage along the journey map.
You just can’t simply focus on the formal interactions when mapping out your customer journey. It's important to include all of their experiences, including how they feel and what you could do more for them in order to get closer insights into why customers choose one product over another.
If in doubt how to zone into your customers' wavelength, here’s a video guide on how to think like your customer that you might find handy.
4. Limiting your map to just one communication channel
In today’s technology-driven world where customers have access to a wide range of channels, both online and offline channels included, it is crucial for businesses to not only keep the communication channel open but also be aware that their preferences may vary depending on the device they are using or where they are interacting from.
This means that in order for your company’s messages and objectives to be truly heard by these potential consumers without leaving anyone out, you need to adjust your map to accommodate all kinds of communication channels prevalent today.
Many businesses still choose to limit their customer outreach efforts by using only one or a couple of communication channels. Don’t go easy on your efforts, get down to some in-depth research and go the whole nine yards by include all communication channels that your potential customers use.
Here’s a useful article on how to evaluate the communication channels you’re currently using and how to gauge new effective channels that you can take advantage of.
5. Not doing enough research
The customer journey map isn't a one-size-fits-all exercise. Although I understand that when you're attempting to create your very first comprehensive representation of customers' experiences for your company, it can be very tempting.
In order for a company's customer journey map to have any meaning it needs thoroughness in both research and planning. But when companies cut corners on either aspect, they may find themselves playing guessing games figuring what their clients want instead of listening carefully enough, not only to understand them but also take action on those insights through effective storytelling techniques.
Inaccurate data leads to wrong conclusions, which results in wasted time and money on product improvements. You also tire yourself out for nothing when you should have been focusing your efforts elsewhere instead of chasing a mirage that doesn't exist - customer satisfaction ratings don’t matter if we can't find them.
Here are some of the best research methods for customer journey mapping that you should definitely follow of you want your map to yield results.
How to create the right customer journey map
The challenge of understanding the minds and preferences that make up your customers is both exhilarating and exhausting. You think you have figured out what they want, but then new technologies or purchase behavior pop up to confound you, tossing away everything you though you knew about them.
So, you now try to keep up with what your customers want through surveys or customer feedback sessions only to find out they are buying something else because of preferences changing rapidly without any heads-up whatsoever.
Next thing you know, you’re struggling with rising customer churn and cart abandonment rates. But, that’s the typical scenario if you go in unprepared or with a hurriedly created customer journey map.
The customer journey is often a complicated one, with many different steps along the way to purchasing your product or service, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.
In this post we'll break it all down for you and paint an accurate picture of what buyers experience when they first start looking into buying something by showing you how to create a foolproof customer journey map.
1. Know why you’re making the map
Unless you question yourself why you’re mapping the customer journey in the first place, there won’t be a definitive direction for you to head toward. To be able to tell who the map is aimed at because that’s how you will be able to define the goal for it.
And to achieve that, you will need to develop customer profiles or buyer personas. Start by thinking about who this persona represents, taking into account personality traits and geographical influences, and what they might want from a business like yours before moving forward with designing anything else.
2. Narrow down buyer personas to one or a few
To create an accurate customer journey map, you need to narrow down your sights into a specific type of customer that always follows a typical path in their purchase journey. Each persona has their own specific needs and wants from a company, which is why it's important that you don’t club all of them into a single group.
Clubbing several customer personas into a single group and thus into one customer journey map would render it ineffective because it would be full of discrepancies. In other words, the journey map that you will have created this way would not be a manifestation of the actual customer experience that you sought out to understand in the first place.
Debutante mappers need not feel the pressure of getting it completely wrong. There are tons of data visualization tools and marketing dashboards that can help you fetch valuable marketing metrics and reports to build your map.
3. Consider every touchpoint of the customer journey
Following the journey of your customer as they would undertake it will help you uncover every little detail that could otherwise slip out from your analysis. This will have you diving into your customers' minds and thinking like them, as you observe every point of their relationship with your business, finding out how and on on what channels they interacted with your business.
This is an important step in creating a customer journey map because it gives you insight into what actions your customers are performing on your website. Are they using more or fewer touchpoints than expected?
Fewer touchoints would imply that customers don’t spend long on your website, leading to higher bounce rate. More touchpoints can be a strong indicator that they don’t find your website quite user-friendly and easily navigable.
The findings from this analysis will help you make better decisions about how to improve the site so that people do not get lost along their journey of finding what they need.
By breaking down the entire journey, you will be able to precisely identify those defining stages that often lead to customers abandoning you or those that decided to stay on. It's the pivotal moment in your customer’s journey where they must decide whether or not to stay with you, and what prompted their decision is the key to your future strategies.
Here is a list of 20 customer touchpoints that can help you optimize your customer journey map.
4. Make the mapping an all-inclusive exercise
Do you know how to make your journey map really foolproof? By getting all the people across your organization involved in the mapping process to make it more functional and practical.
Developing an effective, easy-to understand journey map is imperative for change. Sit down with your team and come up with one that will work for everyone in order to get started on changing processes that will lead to positive outcomes.
“Everyone from the CEO down to the contact center agent should know what it feels like to be a customer.” – Blake Morgan
The journey map is your opportunity to not only showcase the findings of your customer experience but also take actions that will improve it further. Be sure to flag areas that present an opportunity for improvement so they can become action items assigned specifically from this point on, and not just left as is without any changes being made.
5. Take on the role of your customer
Your customer journey map isn’t complete until you have evaluated the findings of the customer experience study. Only when you have probed into every single detail will you have a clear understanding of the areas that fell short of your customers' expectations.
To that end, to remove every shadow of doubt and provide them with the best solutions, it’s essential that you walk the very path that they took by playing the role of the customer yourself. This includes playing multiple roles, depending on the number of buyer personas that you have created, and navigating through the touchpoints to gather every useful information.
6. Take necessary action and keep the map updated at all times
Now that you have a clear picture of what your customers expect from you, it's time to make the necessary changes. It could be anything like the addition of more images of your products on your website or sending them email reminders for price drops.
Maps are a great way to help your customers get where they need and want quickly. That’s why it’s vital that you review the map data regularly to find out areas for improvement if any, and fix them immediately to ensure a smooth customer journey.
This is where your performance metrics tools will come handy, as well as asking for reactions on your products and services directly from the customers.
Types of customer journey maps
Depending on your business and how you’re going to use the map, they can be roughly categorized into four kinds.
Current state journey maps are an essential tool for marketers who want to get a feel of what their customers' journey through the product or service they offer look like at that very moment. They provide insight into the emotional state of the customer while they are interacting with your brand and follow the journey that the customers take during these moments.
This type of customer journey map gives a wide-angle view into the lives and pain points of customers that they experience in all their daily activities. It can be greatly instrumental in revealing unfulfilled customer desires even before they come into that realization, thus helping you stay two steps ahead of them.
The best thing about this type of map is how insightful it will likely turn out to actually be because not only does research show us which markets may need more attention from businesses but also provides insights as far down market levels as you want go.
Future state journey maps are a great way to visualize what the future may hold for your company vis-à-vis the emotions that your customers will experience in their future interactions with your company. They are a continuation of the current state map, making them important in UX/CX efforts as you rapidly change with our customer’s needs around technology innovation.
They also help you see beyond today’s reality while also taking into account all previous knowledge gathered during journey mapping sessions so far. This helps ensure covered areas will not be reinvented again come project completion time.
These customer journey maps are a great way to identify what is causing the current customer experience with a look at all related areas and processes. They begin with an explanation of a basic map style and then bring in all contributing factors, such as people that deliver the given service/product; policies that shape those deliveries (e.g: security); technologies used in conjunction; and the steps involved after purchasing through different channels.
Customer experience has become the new holy grail of business and the real differentiator in today's competitive market. In an increasingly competitive market, it is essential to stand out from the crowd and deliver a memorable customer experience.
Journey maps are valuable tools for capturing useful data so you can transform your company into a truly customer-centric one, with better insight into your customers' needs as well feedback loops, which can ensure they get what's best suited for them at all times.
Want to learn more about customer experience, customer journey mapping and building buyer personas? Let us help you connect better with your target audience. Just drop a line to consult with our digital marketing experts and UX designers at 0707 Agency to start your journey towards creating the best customer experience.