In this two-part blog, we will look at customer journey maps; how to create them, how they help organisations boost customer experience and how they change perceptions about customers.
Get into the mind of your customer
Understanding your customers’ perspectives and thought processes helps you appreciate the way they interact with your company and why. Having a clear grasp of the journey customers go through when interacting with your service or brand can help you improve their experience.
Customer experience is the thing that helps your company stand-out. A good one will keep customers returning.
Today, customers interact with brands in a variety of ways that can be tricky to analyse and assess. A customer journey map helps. It is usually a visual representation of the process a customer or potential customer goes through to achieve ‘their goal’ with your company.
With the help of a customer journey map, you can get a sense of the customer’s motivations, needs, pain points and emotions before, during and after their interactions with your organisation.
Why Is a customer journey map important?
Have you ever waited in for a phone line or Wi-Fi to be installed at your home? I can hear the groans already. This is a great example of how emotions start before the customer journey begins. Why is this? Customers may have encountered problems during previous, similar scenarios, or heard or read about poor service. They may have been through a convoluted customer service process to get to the stage they are at. They may have been let down by previous installers.
So, before the interaction has taken place, there is a negative emotion to overcome. When the installer does turn up, they might be a little late and frustrations are already high. The installer doesn’t have any of this previous knowledge and is just met with a grumpy customer, in turn they respond negatively. Clearly any insight into previous issues would help the installer understand the customer better. Mapping can help with this.
- To maximise customer experience and build your brand you need to break down the customer journey step-by-step and align each step with what needs to be achieved from the customers perspective. Once you’ve done this you can restructure your touchpoints accordingly.
Everything you do should be about solving customer problems and helping them achieve long-term success with your product or service. In doing so, you are more likely to get customer satisfaction and greater repeat business or NPS (net promoter scores). NPS are good indicators for successful brands.
- Customer journey mapping allows organisations and the people in them to refocus on the customer. By mapping out the customer journey, you can understand what content you create is interesting and helpful to your customers, and what is turning them away. You can then create the kind of content that will attract them to your company and keep them there.
Rather than trying to think about your customers through outbound marketing, you can have your customers discover you through in-bound marketing. Outbound marketing involves generalised tactics that are poorly targeted to uninterested audiences. It interrupts customers’ daily lives. It doesn’t speak to them and they don’t engage with your brand through it. It is costly and inefficient and can annoy and deter customers.
Inbound marketing involves the creation of interesting, useful content that your customers are already searching for. It grabs their attention first and focuses on the sales later.
- If you don't properly understand the customer journey, you probably also don't fully understand the demographics and psychographics of your customers. This is dangerous; it's a waste of time and money to repeatedly target too broad an audience, rather than those who will be interested in your products, services, and content.
Researching the needs and pain points of your typical customer and mapping out their journey will give you a good picture of the kinds of people who are trying to achieve a goal with your company. Thus, you can hone your marketing to that specific audience.
- Customer journey mapping helps you create a customer-focused organisation. As your company gets larger, it can be hard to align all departments to be as customer-focused as your customer experience, support and retention teams. A clear customer journey map can be shared throughout the organisation. The great thing about these maps is that they map out every single step of the customer journey from initial attraction to post-purchase support. Quite often this helps engage people in non-customer facing roles with a greater purpose and connection to the customer.
Simply understanding the customer journey isn't typically enough. It's best to interpret it into a graphic or document that you and other employees can refer to as a resource. This is where a customer journey map comes into play. Because the customer journey is not a straight line, using a variety of ways from Post-it notes to Excel spread sheets can be a good way to bring it to life.
It’s also worth thinking about separating it out into various parts, this way you can see a variety of things that impact the customer journey. Understand first the phases your customer goes through to buy, speak to, or be served, then map emotions they may feel down the side along with actions and touch points. It might then also be helpful to profile your customer and personalise maps to a persona.
In part two of this blog we will share a step-by-step guide on how to create a customer journey map with a downloadable resource that you can share with your teams to get you started.