A Guide To The Customer Journey
Once upon a time the path to purchase was a relatively linear progression from identifying the need, a little consideration and then purchase. Those days, I am afraid, are over. The modern customer journey is a hugely complex, multi-channel experience than can often include stages that don’t even involve the company. To understand your customers and gain a competitive advantage, you are going to need a sophisticated approach.
A good customer journey strategy can lead to all kinds of valuable consumer understanding that will help you make positive changes to improve your customer experience.
For today’s post we are going to look at some ideas on how to build the maps and how best to use them.
What Is Customer Journey Mapping?
If you want to measure and improve the customer experience, you firstly need to be able to understand the customer experience. It should be simple, right? You sell a product/ service. Someone needs it. They search for it, they find you and they buy it. The customer is happy and you are happy. Great, now we can all go home and celebrate. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line the customer decided to start being difficult. They started wanting more than just your product. They wanted to actually enjoy the experience. And if they didn’t enjoy the experience they would go buy from somewhere else where they did.
Customer expectations continue to change rapidly and your company needs to constantly be listening to the customer and making changes to suit these expanding expectations. Customers are not just comparing you to direct competition now but to any kind of experience they are having with brands in any sector. With more channels than ever the customer journey now involves a huge amount of touch points. So the purpose of a customer journey map is to plot all these potential touch points and journeys that different customers can take in order that you can better understand the experience and look for areas that can be improved.
How To Create a Customer Journey Map
Once you have gone through a customer journey mapping process, what you should be left with is a visual and practical document that should cover the following:
• The different steps that the customer takes. At each stage, you should be looking at what their expectations are and what outcome they are seeking
• What would success look like from your perspective and from the customers – sometimes these may not match
• Mega Moments. Those moments of truth that define the overall experience as being a positive or negative one.
• Personas. Customer personas is an entire project on its own but if you are going to be defining key points in the customer journey, think about how different customer types would react differently at each stage.
• Emotion. How do you think your customers would feel at this stage in the journey? This is something you could potentially look to measure and compare against your expectations.
There is no standard template for a customer journey map. It needs to be specific to your organization and it also needs to be something you could share with any member of staff or even your customers and they would be able to understand it. Once created, sit back and take a look at the journey. Once your map is created you will need to review your objectives. Do you want to make improvements to the current experience or do you want to design a new experience? I would suggest you do nothing until you start collecting customer data throughout this customer journey. What you deem as important may not actually be important to your customer while there may be areas you have not identified that your customers are struggling with.
It may be after your initial research/ feedback stage you need to come back and revisit your customer journey map. In fact, you will more than likely have to keep coming back to adjust your map as you make changes and collect data.
How To Use a Customer Journey Map
How the actual map looks doesn’t really matter. The value comes from the insights you gain from it and the actions you can take based on them. The key outputs should include establishing a baseline of experience so that you have a starting point to work from. It is also important to establish those ‘moments of truth’ mentioned earlier as these could be the areas you prioritise first as they should have the biggest impact.
Your map should have identified some areas that could be considered broken. Obviously, it is important to fix these areas but make sure you are listening to your customers when deciding how to fix it. You could end up making things worse! This is where data will come in useful to see the impact your changes are having on your customer experience metrics.
The customer journey map might also identify areas where there is room for innovation. It may not be that this step is causing the customer issues but there is room to create a better experience and add a moment of delight.
You can also use your customer journey map to educate internally. Your staff may not be aware of the customer journey and by seeing and understanding it more deeply would be able to help customers better.
How To Connect Data With Customer Journeys
Throughout the various touch points in the customer journey there will be opportunities to collect qualitative and quantitative data. This helps you quantify the experience and understand if the changes you make are having a positive or negative effect. These could range from customer satisfaction surveys, open text questions, star ratings or asking about the customer’s emotions. Tools such as Wizu allow you to create conversations with the customer at various stages in the customer journey so you can be collecting feedback at a time that suits the customer, rather than asking them to recall experiences after the event. By engaging with the customer throughout the journey you are more able to gain a deeper understanding of how their emotions change at various touch points and identify the areas of concern.
It is important to not just look at the rational elements of the experience as one of the most important aspects to consider is how the customer feels throughout the process. The level of emotional engagement can trigger different customer behaviour which also impacts on customer loyalty. Feelings are a hugely important when it comes to making decisions and we are not always aware of what we are feeling. Therefore, you should try and go beyond the standard metric questions and try to understand the subconscious experience. Look at what emotional triggers currently exist in your experience and try to define the emotion that you ideally would like that experience to evoke. Listen to your customers and try to identify the subconscious experiences they might be having.
Top Tips When Creating Your Customer Journey Map
• Have a plan. Your customer journey map should be driving change and generating value. To do this, you need to have a plan in place to define what you will be using the map for, what the timescales are, who will be involved and how changes will be made.
• Involve others. The more people in your organization that you involve the better. They will each have something different to bring to the table and it will help gain universal buy in when changes start to be implemented.
• Create personas. Not all customers are the same and they don’t want to be treated as such. Customers like a personalised experience so define your key customer profiles and try creating journey maps for them. Is there still one consistent overall map or do you need to create some funnels to measure and improve the experience for each type of customer?
• Review, review, review. This is not a once and your done approach. You need to continually create your maps, measure your metrics and speak to your customers. Even if you stop making changes, your customer expectations can change or your competitors might be changing so you need to continually review your customer experiences.