Customer experience is undoubtedly invaluable for any brand wanting to stand out from its competitors, but great customer experience is not accidental. It doesn't happen overnight, and it certainly doesn't happen organically. It is the result of a deliberate strategy that seeks to improve every interaction a customer has with a business. The starting point for any successful customer experience programme must therefore be to identify and understand each of these interactions, or journey points.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is simply a visual representation of a customer's experience with your brand. It tells a story of how a customer moves through each phase of interaction and what the experience is (and should be) at each phase. It includes touchpoints, moments of truth, customer feelings and potential opportunities. CJM's are based on a timeline, often from first interaction through to ending a journey with you, detailing all the phases in between.
There is no hard and fast format in which your CJM should be created. What is important though is that it is useful to your organisation.
This post intends to share our tips and guidelines when it comes to starting to put together a CJM for your business
Set an objective for your map
Before diving headfirst into mapping out a customer journey, you need to ask yourself why you are doing it? What is the goal or endpoint of the map – for example, how will it serve to identify the pain points or gain points in the journey that can be mitigated or leveraged upfront to avoid client cancellation and churn?
Based on the objective of the map, you will be able to clearly describe the type of customer in the form of a persona that details all demographic and psychographics that represent similar customers.
An example of an objective could be "Move customers who are dissatisfied with their insurance premiums at their current insurer over to our offering to the point of onboarding" – in this example the persona could be Buyers in their mid-twenties that seek an average level of cover for the cheapest possible premium. They have limited responsibilities and are digital natives, seeking most information and interaction online.
Represent your customer
It is very easy to become very internally focused when mapping journeys. Remember it is key to both represent the journey from the internal AND customer's point of view and be honest as to how the customer actually experiences it – not how you would like them to (this can be mapped as the end state, or desired state that you are working towards, but should be confused with the current state).
When mapping the journey truly through the eyes of the customer it is important to bear in mind that there may be an impact from outside of your organisation – from the likes of social media or word of mouth – and if you fail to understand this, you may fail in driving customers through your map before you have even started.
For example, in B2B purchasing decisions buyers often rely on their network to act as a referral to a service provider (over any other more traditional marketing source). This means that if word of mouth is not considered a key touchpoint and channel to be nurtured – a B2B customer acquisition map is missing a huge and important chunk of information.
Do your research
This is probably the most important stage within your map. Your research is key in making sure you have a true understanding of the customer, processes and pain points within your map. As important here is that you conduct research with your actual customers, and do not solely rely on internal wisdom. Depending on your map, you will likely need both qualitative and quantitative research to inform your journey fully.
Don't neglect the in-depth conversations as this stage, as understanding the emotions of the customer at each stage is as important as unpacking the functional value. A comprehensive Voice of the Customer programme can be designed to include both quantitative surveys as well as qualitative means of collecting this feedback.
Understand your customer goals at each stage, not just your own
Sometimes it is easier to articulate your own goals from a journey map, but a great customer journey map illustrates what your customers are trying to accomplish at each stage of their experience, and reflects whether those goals evolve as the journey progresses. Understanding the customer goals often serves to fulfil internal goals, but without such understanding, one can end up frustrated that the customer does not seem to follow the journey as mapped.
For example, when mapping the journey a patient undertakes when selecting a healthcare provider, one persona may have a goal of understanding as much as possible, where another may seek to move through the process as quickly as possible – without identifying these goals and using both when designing the journey, the process will likely only work for half of the potential patients.
A great output of any customer journey map is the ability to understand the order and type of interaction point between customer and company. Here it again becomes important to consider those touchpoints that the organisation has little or no control over such as referral or social media commentary. This stage also requires involvement from the Voice of the Customer as without this one is unlikely to understand all touchpoints involved.
Highlight moments of truth
Not all journey touchpoints or phases are created equal, with some having an exponentially greater impact on overall customer experience than others. Great journey maps reveal those Moments of Truth that have a disproportionate impact on a customer's overall perception of the journey, and in doing so, pinpoint the key opportunities where your improvement efforts will provide the greatest return.
In essence, these become the “deal breaker” or “dealmaker” events that have a pivotal impact on the customer experience. The outcome of these critical interactions might well determine whether a customer stops doing business with you or is so delighted they recommend you to their friends, family, and social media connections.
An example here is the check-in process within a hotel. This experience colours all other experiences that follow and if friction is removed, and delight created at this moment, all other interactions are deemed more favourable.
The central message told a journey map should be immediately obvious. But a great journey map is designed to be pored over and studied, with the nuances revealed in the details. Too many journey maps are created only for presentation on a screen, communicating basic information through concise bullet points. A great customer journey map should be a living document that is often referenced, often augmented and an integral part of the way an organisation interacts with its customers.
For assistance with your customer journey mapping, get in touch, we would love to be part of your journey.