There are lots of aspects to consider when working out your customer experience strategy, but one element that’s almost always useful to include is customer journey mapping.
We’ll take a look at exactly what that means and why it can be such a powerful tool in your CX toolbox in this blog post – but first, what is a customer journey map?
Customer journey mapping is a tool used to breakdown each step in your customer’s experience, from their perspective. It’s a granular look at everything they experience with you, and can help to remove the element of chance from your customer experience. A customer journey map will help you identify key moments and pain points in your journey so you can fix them.
Why it it important to use journey maps?
There are several benefits to using customer journey mapping in your customer experience toolkit. These are just a few of them!
Remove the element of assumption from the customer lifecycle
It can be easy to fall into the trap of assuming you know what your customer wants, where customer pain points lie and to base your business as usual activity on those assumptions.
You may well be correct in your assumptions, but because we know that customer expectations change with advances in technology, environmental factors and time, it’s possible that our assumptions which are usually based on extensive experience, can sometimes become out of date.
By using a customer journey map, you force yourself and your customer service team to look at every-single-step in the customer experience.
Remove the element of chance from customer journeys
In any business where there are multiple teams, multiple products, multiple processes there will always be the chance that something might go wrong, or not work as smoothly as it should.
From failed deliveries of customer experience, to inconsistent customer service and how complaints might be handled, if there is room for error then you can guarantee that at some point there will be an error made.
Whilst no business can ever completely eradicate mistakes and issues, mapping the customer journey is a great way to highlight where a process has either not been created at all, or has not been designed fully enough.
Target your experience to your customer and build journey maps to suit
You can map the customer journey based on personas that represent your ‘average’ customer, or you can do a more detailed map based on a single customer journey experienced by an actual customer.
Either way, you’ll be able to highlight the biggest risk areas, and work towards reducing the risk that things could go wrong, or highlight the things that go well, but perhaps not consistently and ultimately remove the element of chance.
Ensure seamless handovers (from the customer perspective)
When a customer finishes being sold to and they start to be onboarded they can be passed from the sales team to the operations team.
Ask both teams where their responsibility for the customer experience starts and ends and you might find a mismatch in answers – this can leave the customer without clear ownership at pivotal customer stages in the journey where everyone assumes someone else is handling things.
A journey map will help you identify if this is the case, and gives you the deeper insight needed to bridge the gaps and ensure world class experiences.
Highlight pain points and key moments in customer journeys – at a glance
Sometimes driving momentum within the business when it comes to customer experience improvements can feel like pushing a boulder up a hill (if the name ‘Sisyphus’ comes into anyone’s head right now – bravo!).
It’s not easy, largely due to everyone having their own priorities and a lack of time to generate the empathy needed to step into a customer’s shoes.
A customer journey map is easy to read, visually engaging, and can create an immediate impact. It clearly shows where the customer journey begins, and help you take your colleagues through the customer touch points in the entire lifecycle without having to explain yourself in great detail.
They can see the issues, they can see the elements of the customer’s journey that work, and you’ll be able to more easily influence their support if they can see the problem existing within their department or section of the customer journey map.
What does journey mapping consider?
Journey mapping considers your customers experience to accurately predict the steps in the customer journey that need most attention, either because they are crucial steps that have high emotional sentiment attached to them, or because they are currently a step that doesn’t drive customer satisfaction – so needs to be resolved.
Unlike a process map, the customer journey map isn’t about what you do behind the scenes – it’s about what is felt by the customer.
What else do customer journey maps tell you?
Mapping the entire customer journey in detail allows you to scrutinise each step your customer takes from their viewpoint, compare it to customer insights your have available from feedback or customer focus groups and build out a solid, visual representation of what your customer sees, hears, feels and experiences each time they encounter your business.
You can build out the customer sentiment, or emotional curve from there and easily use this visual tool to see at a glance which parts of your customer journey are most important to your customer when it comes to decision making, or how they feel about your brand.
You can also use it to highlight gaps in the process, a lack of ownership or friction that your customer might feel.
Once you know where the problems and significant steps are, you can more easily prioritise what you work on within your customer experience strategy to increase customer satisfaction and ultimately ensure improved customer retention.
Journey mapping for customer experience
If you’re considering mapping your customer journey, then it can be useful to start with customer calls and conduct research with the customer type you want to produce the map for. Who this is will depend on the business goals and who you are trying to attract.
If you want to grow the retention in a particular customer segment, it is useful to focus your first journey map on the customer persona(s) appropriate for that segment (seems pretty obvious!). You can always do a subsequent customer journey map to cover other customer types later if you feel that level of detail would be helpful.
Our top tips for creating a customer journey
- Gather customer feedback
- Review customer feedback
- Identify customer experience objectives if you can (you might need the customer journey map to do this so don’t panic if you aren’t sure what to focus on yet)
- Identify three or four customer experience design principles to help you scrutinise each step of the journey eg. If you have an objective to reduce the volume of calls coming in at a particular stage in the journey, a design principle could be ‘self-service’, and the question you ask of each stage would be “does this step currently enable self service?”
- Conduct a customer focus group
- Run an internal workshop with cross-functional representation and start to create the map in the workshop
- Find customer journey map templates online if you aren’t sure where to start
- Use a combination of feedback, customer effort score, CSAT, or NPS results and your knowledge of industry best practice to help inform the emotional sentiment against each step (but again, make sure you validate with a customer focus session that you’ve allocated the correct emotion to each step).
- Finally – highlight the issues in the customer journey map i.e. the areas that couldn’t meet your design principles or the areas where the emotional sentiment was negative. and pull all the pain points together to create a prioritised action plan.
Even just one customer journey map can be very time-consuming but don’t panic. If you’ve read enough to know you need to journey map, but worry you might not have the time, resource or expertise to apply to journey mapping then we can do it for you, just contact us. We’d be happy to help!
Is customer journey mapping a design tool?
In a word, yes! Customer journey mapping is a design tool, utilised to firstly identify the current customer journey and what your customers currently experience (from their perspective), and then to create an aspirational customer journey map that helps you demonstrate where you are vs where you want the business to be.
This is based on buyer personas, customer needs, and market research. A gap analysis of the two maps helps you create an action plan.
How often should you be journey mapping?
This will depend on the pace of change in your business, your industry, your customer base, which area you are mapping, and what you’re trying to achieve within your business and your customer experience function.
We’d recommend that you start off mapping your end-to-end customer journey map for your main customer persona at least once when you commence your customer strategy or any customer journey transformation.
You can then review it either six monthly or annually depending on your pace of change to ensure it’s still accurate.
If you get the bug, and love journey mapping then you can always complete multiple journey maps for all your customer personas, and more in depth maps for specific problem areas.
Customer journey design should focus on the entire customer experience.
Experience management is made much easier if you put the work in early on and develop a customer journey map that helps you focus on that entire end to end experience, taking in all of your customers interactions, from how they first find your brand, to phone calls made with your sales rep, all the way through to the little things like how easy it is complete a payment or change their password.
Our customers have experiences with all sorts of brands these days, so they won’t just be comparing their experience with you to the next best business in your industry, they’ll compare their experience with you to the very best experiences they have in any industry, and the bar is set high!
Don’t let them have any chance to feel disappointed, create a customer journey map from their view point and make sure once you’ve identified their pain points you have a solid action plan in place to fix them.
If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your customer needs, exceeding their expectations and driving increased customer loyalty. With loyal customers spending on average 67% more than new ones, there’s everything to play for!