Mapping customer journeys is high on the agendas of CMOs and other leaders driving digital transformation and customer experience initiatives across organizations today. Almost 89% compete mainly on customer experience.
While customer journeys are crucial to successful business strategies, companies still struggle to define these journeys and optimize them in their daily operations, as these figures show:
Creating a customer journey map is a key part of any successful customer experience strategy. It's a useful tool for marketing and sales teams to understand how customers interact with the brand and move through the sales funnel. Customer journey maps are crucial for businesses in any industry to improve their operations and the overall buying experience.
Most importantly, a customer journey map makes organizations more customer-oriented in their thinking. With a map of your customers' journeys, your business will see things in context and better meet consumer expectations before, during and after the sale.
Let's look more into how to create a customer journey map and the six key questions you should ask to get it right.
When starting to build your customer journey map, you want to get all relevant stakeholders involved from marketing to sales and customer service. Bringing in representatives from each department will give unique perspectives that help form a holistic picture of the customer journey. As a cross-functional team, you want stakeholders to provide their view on customer touchpoints, interactions and pain points. Having this support from the start will help the customer journey map you produce gain traction throughout your company.
Get everyone involved to bring customer-centric change to your organization.
You should use internal employee knowledge to build a hypothetical customer journey map, and then back it up with qualitative and quantitative data. Your research needs to include a broad range of input that captures the customer experience across touchpoints and their perception of your brand. If you don't include this data, you risk creating a customer journey map that's only a model of your internal ideas.
For quantitative data, you can start with website analytics. Here you'll find visitor behavior on your site, and when they convert to customers or choose to leave the site. You can also turn to search engine data to see what potential customers are looking for when they arrive at your website. Along with these options, you can collect additional data by requesting that existing customers complete surveys after they've interacted with your brand.
For qualitative data, speak with your existing customers directly. Your customer success team knows your customers well and can get valuable anecdotal information about interactions with your brand through conversations with them. Customer service staff can provide additional insights into many of the pain points your existing customers have with your product or service.
Include a mix of quantitative and qualitative research for data-driven customer journey map.
Many organizations tend to focus on what happens when customers encounter the product or service itself, e.g. a vacation cruise or an insurance package. Yet they fail to define the whole scope of the journey. They don’t look at the big picture, the augmented view of the product. This might cover anything from the first ad customers see and how they engage on the website, to how sales reps communicate with them and the service and after-sales support they get.
If you’re an insurance business for instance, the customer’s motivation or goal is not just “buy health insurance”, but “stay fit and healthy”. If you take this enlarged perspective, you can spot gaps for improvement or even opportunities for other value-added services. You might want to engage with them before they even start looking for health insurance, perhaps making initial contact via fitness clubs or offering reduced premiums for those who regularly do sports activities.
Look at the entire customer lifecycle to get holistic customer journeys in place.
What drives satisfaction most? Here again, organizations often fail to understand what is truly important for customers. They consider a particular touchpoint to be important, but customers think otherwise, or vice-versa. For example, an insurer might believe that the underwriting process on the website is the most important element. However, through customer research, it finds out that customers complain most about spending too much time waiting to get answers from the help desk. The insurer then goes about building a customer self-service solution.
Some businesses might take a strategy of having fewer touchpoints or shortening the customer journey so that customers move efficiently from one step to the next. However, consider if you should add touchpoints in key areas. For example, a health insurance provider might introduce direct sales without agents, but then customers, who expect lower prices, complain more as they notice insurance premiums rising each year, for reasons they cannot explain. So, the insurer creates a new touchpoint in the invoicing process: it contacts customers a month before payments are due to discuss any changes needed and to make sure that customers understand the insurance package they have picked and whether this package accurately covers their needs. Thus, an extra touchpoint can help smoothen the journey.
Listen to the voice of customers and see what matters most to them, not to your business.
Along with determining the specific touchpoints or interactions, you should consider how customers move from one point in the journey to the next. In many cases, there will be a trigger or requirement before customers move on to the next stage. In many cases, these can be categorized into three main stages:
Determine the triggers that move customers through the journey so that you can optimize them.
Thinking in terms of customer journeys tends to break the experience down into smaller individual steps. While this is useful when measuring and analyzing specific results, it can have some drawbacks, because these discrete metrics do not reflect the overall satisfaction that customers have with your brand and the experiences you are offering.
For instance, a health insurer might launch a multi-function app that does anything from locating the nearest doctor and submitting claims, to measuring heart rate and giving advice on quick remedies. It could measure usage rates of these different functions and collect valuable customer behavioral data. But beyond that, it should link these separate measures back to overall customer satisfaction, which is in the end the single most important metric to predict long-term success.
Look at the big picture and unite the different touchpoints. One way to measure holistically is through the net promoter score (NPS), an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. With one simple question, you get a predictive measure that tells you how satisfied your customers are and how likely they will return in the future.
Connect all the touchpoints and measure the experience as a whole.
Once you’ve mapped out your customer journeys, create great experiences at every step of the way. Optimize search so that customers can find you easily, give ready answers to their questions, provide them with everything they need to know about your product or service, before and after they buy. In other words, create effective content and build meaningful connections with your customers.