Customer journey mapping

Introduction

Customer journey mapping is an approach that analyzes interactions that customers have with a company and the emotions they experience in that process. To companies, it became one of the most important techniques for visualizing the customer's experience, since it provides a view on their business from the customer's perspective. It has many benefits but many companies avoid it because they consider it too complicated to use. This doesn't have to be the case. In fact, any company can do it because it doesn't have to show every detail of the customer's experience.

It is often compared with a user persona since they both represent a typical user experience. Customer journey mapping offers a broader approach with a focus on customer experience. User persona tends to deal with much detail and focuses on the customer person.

The importance of customer journey mapping

It offers a variety of useful information for employees of the company. It explains the motivations for the user's actions and feelings they have during the process and offers insight into the user's background. It also explains the way the customers move through the sales funnel.

This comprehensive view opens many possibilities for improvement. Perhaps the most important benefit of it is that it accurately locates problems that interrupt customers in their actions because it utilizes a user-centered approach. Too often companies concentrate only on their goals and forget that users and their needs should be in focus. It is not enough just to follow new technological trends but also to employ them in a way that serves the customers best.

Approaches to creating a customer journey map

There are two types of approaches in the process of creating a customer journey map: analytical and practical.

Analytical approach

This is a logical approach for many companies since website analytics offers a lot of data about the users, which include their characteristics (e.g. gender, age, location, occupation, etc.). It will also include their goals and motivations. Their interpretation is crucial because this data often don't show us user's satisfaction with the website. It is easy to be too optimistic and think, for example, that users spend a lot of time on the website because they like it and not because they are having problems with the interface. For the best results it important to include data from every source that affects the customer journey. This is often not just the company's website but also the company's presence on social media. The most important benefit of this approach is to locate critical points that prevent customers from buying products.      

Practical approach    

An analytical approach is a great way to collect and analyze data about the users, but it is not enough to describe the customer journey. For the whole picture, user experiences must be employed. Surveys should be conducted among the customers but also among the personnel that deals the most with customers. This can be challenging if the company is selling many products, has many employees in various sections and many types of customers. In that case, prioritizing should be made in order to save valuable resources. Sometimes there will be gaps in that process that will require guessing.              

Creating a customer journey map

Although every company will have its own idea about steps that should be taken to create a useful customer journey map, there are some basic steps that should be followed.

Setting goals

Goals of a customer journey map should be clearly defined from the start of this process. This can be, for example, an increase in selling of the products and attracting more customers while keeping old ones. Some goals can emerge during this process but that will be secondary goals with a low level of importance for the whole process.

It is important not to get lost in the details because it takes too many resources that can be used for other activities. It is also important not to speculate too much about the possible paths that a customer could choose. It is probably the best approach to select one type of customer and outline his individual journey. After him to select another one and so on.

Customer research

Companies should determine their target customers and research their behavior, habits, goals, and needs in order to get a better understanding of them. An interview is a good way to do that since it offers direct contact with customers. Assumptions are sometimes good to fill some gaps and to accelerate the process but it is not enough for getting the best possible results. Of course, interviews with employees that deal with customers the most are essential.

Registering touchpoints

Touchpoints are places on the company's website in which customers interact with a company. It is very important to record them since they are crucial points that decide the desired outcome. Every touchpoint is important but some are more important and they should have priority dealing with.  Their usage can indicate problems in customer's interaction with the company's website. For example, if customers are using fewer touchpoints than predicted that can mean they are giving up the idea of making a purchase. It is also useful to register potential touchpoints in order to get the most out of the company's website.

Registering pain points

It is crucial to locate problems that customers are experiencing on the company's website. A major problem is often a messy interface. Many users easily go to another website if the interface is badly done since the competition is huge in many businesses. Some other often pain points are price, shipping terms, warranty terms, etc. Registering these points can help a lot because some of these points can usually be solved relatively simple and they also offer a good foundation for solving more difficult ones.

Registering customer's actions

A company should register every action that customers make in contact with her. They are not limited to the company's website like touchpoints. They can be, for example clicking on the ad, internet search for the company, contact through the social media or email, reading reviews or comments about the company, etc.

Running a customer journey workshop

It is a good practice to organize a customer journey workshop since it brings far better results than working in a small group. Many stakeholders should be employed in order to obtain as many relevant opinions as possible.

Selecting attendees for a customer journey workshop

The most useful attendees of the workshop are usually members of the personnel that deals the most with customers. Customers have also valuable experiences to share but they are limited to their own experience. Still, it is good to have them represented, if possible. Managers generally don't deal with details of user experience but they are important attendees since they make far-reaching decisions for the company. Other employees can be important, for example, web developers with their suggestions about the technical implementation of the business ideas.

Determining scope

Running a customer journey workshop doesn't have to be too complicated but there are some delicate parts. One of them is the very start when the company must decide what to map. The decision will depend on what will better serve the company's main objectives, more or less detailed perspective. This decision will, of course, have long long-term consequences.

Determining relevant information

Another delicate part of a customer journey mapping is determining what information to map about the user. This will also vary upon the company's business and target users but typical information is:

  • Efforts
  • Touchpoints
  • Emotions
  • Questions

Determining phases of user interaction

It is also crucial to determine the main phases a customer goes through in dealing with a company. These will vary upon the company's business but they can, for example, be:

  • Discovery
  • Analysis
  • Comparison
  • Selection
  • Purchase
  • Shipment
  • After sales support

Customer journey grid

With determined phases of user interaction and the user information, the company can create a grid with this data on its axis. It is recommended to be huge so many people can put information on it. It is good to segment attendees into groups with each group assigned one part of the job. That will accelerate the whole process a lot.

Pitfalls of a customer journey workshop

Customer journey mapping is a very useful technique but it can lead to unreliable results. This can happen if, for example, wrong data is selected for analysis. This the reason why the customers should be employed to confirm the results. It is easy to misestimate the results when a company deals only with data collected by employees.

After relevant data has been selected, it is important to make use of it. This sounds logical but often a customer journey map remains unused. That is why it is recommended to make it visually appealing in order to attract more employees to get involved. This will usually be some form of an infographic or a spreadsheet. Storyboards are also very popular because they represent gathered data in the storylike form. Here again, simplicity is very important since it is very easy to get lost in too many possibilities. Also, in a simple customer journey, other employees can easily contribute to its creation.

Conclusion

Customer journey mapping is a very useful technique for any company that wants to significantly increase purchases. Its potential to visualize business is enormous which makes it great in engaging more employees in the process since it is easier to connect with something that is represented graphically than just with pure data.

Although it helps a lot, companies must be cautious while conducting it because its quality will depend upon the chosen data for analysis. This can lead to great results but it can also lead the company in the wrong direction. In order to avoid these dangers, it is very important to follow some basic rules based on experience in dealing with them. If done in the right way, the results will show up even just small ones in the start.

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