Customer journey maps can be a vital component of understanding customers' experience when they interact with your business.
Because they make customer experience visual, they can help you understand what your customers are thinking and feeling as they engage at every level with your company.
This in turn can help you assess how your organization fits into your customers' lives and how best to communicate with your customers.
Creating a customer journey map involves an amalgamation of market research, brainstorming and creating a wide-ranging visualization that makes it easy to understand your customers.
Let's take a look at five steps to preparing a customer journey map that will inform and empower your business team.
1. Start With a Hypothetical Customer Journey Map
Start by creating a hypothetical customer journey map based on your existing knowledge about your customers' experience. Incorporate the research you already have about your customers' goals, desires and needs, as well as their expectations of your company and the touchpoints at which you interact with them.
Your map might trace the steps and decisions a customer makes in deciding whether to open an account with your company. It might travel through the journey of purchasing a product and deciding to return it. Whatever product or service you provide, now is the time to define the scenario and track what you think happens in your customer interaction.
Creating this hypothetical map allows you to assess the accuracy of your current understanding of your customers. The temporary map points out any biases you have or areas of possible misunderstanding.
Importantly, it also lets you see where you have research gaps and what kinds of data you need to create a fuller understanding. Use this hypothetical map to plan your specific goals for the accurate customer journey map that you're now going to build.
2. Collect Data that Reflects the Voice of the Customer
At the heart of creating a customer journey map is the research you use to develop that map. Plan to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data to understand how your customers feel when they interact with your company.
Qualitative data can come from analyzing voice of customer (VoC) information from your call center, if you use one. Pay attention to customer comments on your social media sites as well, as they can provide specific reactions to initiatives generated from your company.
One of the best methods for collecting customer data, of course, is the customer survey. Reach out to the customers on your email lists and social media feeds to ask for survey responses, or solicit survey data whenever a customer makes a purchase online. You can also offer incentives for taking surveys, such as discounts on future purchases or opportunities to win prizes. Retail businesses can encourage survey participation by printing survey contact information on sales receipts and, again, offering incentives for those who participate.
When creating a customer survey, your main target should be to keep it simple and quick. Frame your questions to target the key information that will help you to create your customer journey map.
The use of a scale is always helpful when you want quantitative data. Ask your customers to rate their satisfaction with your products and services on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 equaling Not Satisfied and 10 equaling Extremely Satisfied. If you have more specific areas where quantitative data could be useful, use the same scale. Gathering this data across a wide range of customers can help you see how you're hitting your goals.
Qualitative data gleaned from customer feedback surveys can be even more helpful. Ask what your customer was most satisfied with and least satisfied with in recent interactions, and ask for suggestions for improvement.
3. Generate a List of Customer Touchpoints
Assess the results of your customer feedback surveys to generate a list of touchpoints. These are the moments and situations in which your customer interacts with your business. Look for the gaps between touchpoints and ascertain which of the touchpoints are actually effective, where touchpoints can be improved, and where new ones can be created.
As you map your customer's journey, look for ways to decrease the time between touchpoints. This may involve breaking touchpoints down into smaller increments or looking for new channels to use to reach out to customers.
For example, consider a customer whose touchpoint for paying a bill has always involved receiving and sending paper in the mail. This customer might feel a stronger sense of engagement if the option to pay online or via mobile device is available, opening up new opportunities for greater communication back and forth.
4. Drafting Your Improved Customer Journey Map
Begin your customer journey map with a timeline, then start to add the elements that you've been collecting and brainstorming. These should include all customer touchpoints and your channels of communication with your customers. In addition, chart your customers' empathy toward your company, showing where they experience emotional highs and lows in their working relationship with you.
Pay attention as well to any customer loyalty information you've amassed, as well as to customer satisfaction metrics. Don't focus solely on the positive. Include pain points with respect to the financial and emotional cost a customer pays to conduct transactions with your company, as well as the levels of emotional investment.
Your customer journey map doesn't have to take the form of a typical timeline, though many businesses find this format serves them well. If you need to create an interactive journey map with clickable evidence, go for it. An actual map or a circle can also be useful as formats.
5. Keep Updating Your Customer Journey With New Information
As you complete your customer journey map, don't consider it locked in stone. Always keep refining it as you collect and add more information. The most valuable aspect of a customer journey map is its ability to live in a state of constant reinvention as you put what you learn into action.
Ultimately, your customer journey map should be actionable. As you build it and continue to refine it, always focus on the information that helps you create an ever-stronger bond with your customers.