Want to be successful in business? It’s all about the customer.
Customer journey mapping is a strategy that many companies have embraced. They seek systematic ways to embed the customer at the center of their every business process. For those wanting to take a closer look, our overview will provide some essential foundation steps.
What is the Customer Journey?
Customer journey. A phrase that might evoke some head scratching in smaller businesses without dedicated marketing staff.
The head-scratching might be going something like this:
“Customer journey? We’re not exactly running a tour bus operation here. Our customers aren’t going anywhere, other than maybe the shopping cart or the cash register.”
But in reality, the customer journey refers to your typical customer’s interactions with your business. This starts right from your very first contact with them to their conversion into raving fans.
And in truth, the customer journey should go beyond just these separate events, or touchpoints, to look at the bigger picture, as the Harvard Business Review notes.
What is important, the writers suggest, is the context in which customer interactions occur. Businesses need to look beyond individual transactions. They need to explore what motivates their customers to interact with them, to look for the causes of their complaints and concerns if they have any, and to respond promptly and knowledgeably to any feedback they might provide them.
In this process, businesses can be aided by a technique termed customer journey mapping.
About Customer Journey Mapping
Customer journey maps are a visual way to depict the story of the customer experience with your business from their perspective, as Smashing Magazine note.
The maps, as their names suggest, are usually visual depictions or graphics that are structured around customer touchpoints – that is to say, customer interactions with your business in regard to purchasing a product or service.
Often, the touchpoints are grouped representing key stages or phases of interaction with the customer, such as “Discovery”, “Comparison” and “Decision.”
Primarily, customer journey maps attempt to capture the human aspects of sales and marketing transactions: detailing the customer’s emotions, motivations, and behavior at each stage.
They are usually developed with an ideal customer in mind. Invest some time developing customer personas, if this is something your business still has not completed.
What are the benefits?
If this all sounds like a lot of hard work and effort, you might be wondering what your business will get out of it in return.
Developing customer journey maps will help your sales and marketing teams to see your products and services through the customer’s eyes. There may also be some additional benefits.
Marketing company BigDoor suggests a number of these as part of a broader discussion on customer journey mapping. They include:
- Develop product roadmaps: customer journey maps can help to reveal where the gaps are in your customer experience and suggest new product ideas to address them;
- Prioritise competing deliverables: by providing evidence that teams can use to help decide between alternative business goals;
- Support workforce planning: in identifying aspects of your business that are under-resourced and could use additional staffing;
- Encourage team building: through having your team adopt a single perspective – that of the customer – customer journey maps can be hugely helpful in breaking down harmful internal silos.
5 Steps to Developing a Customer Journey Map
Ready to jump in? Just hold on there a second! Have a quick look at our five-step checklist to make sure you stay on track.
- Start with a customer persona. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Managing the customer experience is so much easier if you can be specific about who you mean when you refer to “the customer”. Know their key wants, needs and characteristics.
- Clarify the goal your customer is trying to achieve. Is your client looking to switch to a new internet service provider? Selling their house? Purchasing car insurance? Being clear on this brings a laser-like focus to your customer journey mapping.
- Plot the main touchpoints. What are the key actions that the customer must undertake in order to reach their goal? For example, in the initial phase, the customer may need to engage in some research. Plot all of the key actions from start to finish on the map.
- Organize the touchpoints into stages. Most of the touchpoints will fall into natural clear stages, as mentioned earlier. Consulting firm McKinsey calls these phases‘Initial Consideration’, ‘Active Evaluation’, ‘Closure’ and Postpurchase’, but if these don’t fit, see if you can come up with some that are more appropriate for your business. McKinsey also views the customer journey (or consumer decision journey, as they call it), as more of a loop than a linear process, as it is usually presented; an interesting idea.
- Determine client sentiment at each stage. As customer experience management firm Clarabridge discuss, this is all about how the customer is feeling at each stage of the customer journey – about themselves, about their decision process, and most importantly, about your company.