In today’s highly competitive marketplace, understanding your customer has never been more important. Customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) are now becoming major determinants of business growth; with 81% of companies in 2019 expecting to compete mostly or completely on the basis of CX.
However, according to Forbes, while 80% of businesses believe they deliver ‘super experiences’, only 8% of customers agree.
Where are these businesses going wrong? To put it simply, they don’t know their customers very well. There are many reasons your CX strategy may not be resonating with customers, and a great first step to confront this customer expectation gap is to create a customer journey map.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is an internal communications tool that illustrates the pain points, gains and gaps in the experience that a customer has when interacting with your product or service. They can also be used to design the intended customer experience for a new product or service your business is developing.
They are a visual manifestation of extensive customer research and insights gathered from a cross-section of representatives across a business. Focussing in on a defined business service, these workshops define a customer persona, typical experiences, customer emotions and a number of user journey flow options that culminate in a journey map of a representative customer’s experience. The detail in this map can include how they find you, how they connect and interact with you, and their satisfaction levels during and after these customer touchpoints.
How can it help your business?
Customer journey maps are useful tools to visualise how your customers move through a sales and marketing funnel, through to purchase and after-sales service. They can also be incredibly powerful for understanding the “moments of truth” in a service experience, helping businesses to identify areas to focus on, augment and improve.
This human-centred approach puts customers at the centre of all activity, and assesses at a greater level the personal biases and previous misjudgements of behaviour which may be preventing your business from reaching its full sales potential.
Top creation tips for creating a customer journey map:
Remember that this is a communications tool - know who you’re speaking to
Journey maps are only effective if your readers can digest and understand the message in the manner you intended. Try not to over-complicate your journey and always use defined stages to help communicate clearly and effectively. A good customer journey map is designed to be referenced often, so it’s important to have a design that you’d be happy to have tacked onto an office wall.
Know your personas
Customer personas are a representative profile of a group of people who fit your target segments. Creating a customer persona is a valuable exercise for many aspects of your business, and it is particularly useful for plotting out potential pathways a customer could find and interact with your brand.
Your journey map will only be as good as your ability to identify an accurate persona, so it is essential that this step is well thought-out and factual.
When mapping your personas, extensive customer research is key. In the research phase, it’s important to talk to real customers to surface their real “goals”, and “pains” and “gains” through extensive one-on-one interviews. Gaining unbiased, candid opinion is a specialised discipline and you should consider hiring an independent to ensure the integrity of your data and insights surfaced. Talk to us if you need us to conduct these for you.
One thing to note, the research phase is the most time-intensive part of the customer journey mapping process and can take upwards of 80% of your project time and budget to complete. The more you invest in good quality insights however, the more representative your mapped attributes will be.
Invest in a tailor-made journey map.
A journey map is an opportunity to invest in developing unique customer experience and to truly align with what most delights your audiences.
Creating a custom journey map is a process that requires a great deal of time and a deep analytical lens, however if done well, your journey map has the potential to greatly amplify your processes and profitability.
Journey mapping templates are available online, however these act as more of a guide and should only be used as a last resort.
Using a template may be tempting, but creating a journey map that truly reflects your organization's unique customer situation is vital to the success of your journey map.
As both a benchmarking and design tool, taking the time to design a customer journey map that is fit for purpose and fit for your business is extremely important.
The shortcuts you use in your design process will only be your shortcoming in the future, so try not to rush this step.
Optimising customer experience is the key
The ultimate goal of this process is to delight your customers by enhancing their customer experience - so be sure that you are not overstating the customer satisfaction as they proceed through the experience; e.g people don’t really enjoy filling in forms. Instead, ensure that your business is prepared to ease every step.
It is natural for customers to have peaks and troughs in their emotional state as they waiver between consideration, commitment and dropout. Be honest with the narrative that you are telling - try to separate the goal of your business and focus solely on what your customer wants.
Sometimes the best ideas for business growth stem from fostering customer empathy. Once you have brainstormed your CX goal, you can then augment the business's response to mitigate drops in customer sentiment.
Create as many Customer journey maps as you need
Your customers are not carbon copies of one another, they are a diverse group of people with different needs, different goals, and different pressure points. A single journey map simply cannot attend to every unique experience of your diverse customer segments.
You will need as many customer journey maps as you have segments of customers and the goals they want to achieve. Designing a single ‘one-size-fits-all’ journey map will only lead to CX compromises at best, and visual chaos at worst!
Most organisations require multiple maps to cover large segments of consumer groups. Don’t be afraid to create a multitude of journey maps to cover as many CX bases as possible.
Test, measure, learn and refine
Continuous improvement is a necessary component of journey map management. Test your assumptions, measure engagement levels and incrementally adapt your strategy and maps to visualise the results you’re looking for.
Just as your brand, processes and consumers grow and change over time, so too must your journey map. Ensure your map remains useful and relevant by updating it regularly.
Remember, your map is only an asset if it accurately reflects your current business situation.
Journey mapping can often be complex, that’s why many businesses outsource the process to strategic CX and graphic design agencies (like us!).
Some brands have a rich dataset and great planners and need help on visualisation. Others require customer journey maps from scratch.
If you need help with your project and would like to gain stronger insights and visibility into your customer journeys, get in touch with us today.