March 13th, 2017
Are you looking for a way to streamline your customer experience (CX)? A way to bring the departments in your company together to work toward a single goal? A way to understand what your customers want and what to give them next? A way to make us stop writing in this pseudo-rhetoric way? Well, guess what! You’ve found it in this blog on the wonders of customer journey maps! (Honestly, we’ll stop now.)
So what are customer journey maps?
You can visualise them as timelines or flowcharts – either physical or digital – that map out every experience your customer will have on their journey with your company. This includes things such as their initial awareness of your brand, right through to contacting customer support and even leaving the brand (such as unsubscribing or closing an account).
By following this journey, and putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you can glean a better overview of what your customers are thinking, feeling and how to go about improving the experience they're having. So, ready to delve into it with us?
The benefits of using a customer journey map
Understanding your customer
One of the most visible benefits of customer journey maps is being able to understand what your customers are experiencing when they’re interacting with your brand. This information is absolutely vital if you want to improve your CX. Often, we as businesses like to think we know what our CX is like because we designed it. Of course we know, right? But creating customer journey maps can often throw up things we were unaware of (referred to as “truth moments”) and can bring new issues to light that we didn’t see because of our position.
No, seriously, it does.
When creating a journey map, you have to think about what kind of customers you have and what they need from the company (more on that in ‘how to make your own’). You often rely on surveys, which give you valuable data to piece together an image of your customers.
With this new-found knowledge, you can begin to see where you should change your service or products to move them closer to what the customer wants. Not only is this great for the customer, it’s great for you – happy customers equals happy businesses.
Customer journey maps make development in your company easier than ever. Knowing more about your customers and going through their experiences can show you where the gaps are in your journey. What are the customers skipping over? What do they need that you’re not providing? Customer experience mapping helps you answer these questions and, armed with that knowledge, you can use it to create new services or products for your customers.
Don’t forget, "80% of your company’s future revenues come from just 20% of your current customers" so keeping them happy with your brand is essential.
Creating a seamless experience
You will often see departments working separately (but often on the same or similar tasks) within a company, referred to as 'silos'. Although you can’t expect every department to be working in unison all the time, silos usually mean that teams can become disjointed and their goals don’t align. Customer journey maps help to bring your teams together (remember that pitch from the introduction?).
A customer journey map includes all facets of your business so it includes all departments too. Because of this, everyone knows what role they have to play, from your customer service (CS) team to your sales team to your human resources (HR) team. Everyone plays some role in what is being delivered to your customers and there will be something on that map that concerns them. This means that your whole business can get behind improving your CX and share that single goal. This can have a monumental effect.
How to make a customer journey map
If you’re considering putting together one of these maps for your company, there are several steps you have to follow to get it right.
First, and foremost, you have to conduct research. You have to gain an understanding of who your customers are. Create personas for the different kinds of customers you have – what do they want, what do they do, where do they spend their time?
Think about the goals of your customers too. These might not always be what you expect. So, keep in mind that each customer is different and that these goals should ultimately be met by the CX you create for them.
You can figure all this out by conducting interviews, giving out surveys, analysing your Google Analytics account, and a bunch of other ways too.
Make a list of all the points at which your customers come into contact with your brand. This really is all the points. From initial awareness, to purchasing a product, right on down to closing an account and leaving the brand. All these stages are important and should be optimised to provide an excellent customer experience.
Remember to consider your personas as well. Different personas may interact in different ways. Some people may first become aware of your brand through word of mouth, others through social media. Some people may first visit a physical store and others may find you via a mobile app. It’s important to consider who will be interacting with you, and how, at each stage of the journey.
This stage is often where "moments of truth" come into play. Once you have everything laid out before you, you may begin to see that some parts of your journey are being ignored. You may even notice that some customers are interacting with your company in ways that are surprising to you – it will all become apparent if you base this process on the research you've gathered and not your own assumptions of your customers. After all, we’re not always correct about what they want.
Now that the big part is out of the way, it’s time to come up with some ideas. What needs to be changed, what can be refined? Can some parts of your journey be cut entirely if they’re being skipped and are there some stages missing? At this stage, you may need to go away and conduct a little more research. If you think something is missing, what is it? Your customers will probably be able to tell you.
Each department will play a role in a different part of this process. Each stage will likely involve a different department, even if some stages cover multiple teams and some teams are involved in multiple stages. It’s important that you gather ideas for improvement from everyone. Not only does this make the suggestions more diverse and sophisticated, it also helps bring your teams together under one goal and creates a seamless experience, just as we were saying earlier.
So, you’ve got some ideas on how to improve your company. That’s it, right? Well, nearly.
Now that you know where you’re going, it’s important to refine the process. You need to take all that messy data and those ideas that are scattered about and actually make something out of them. It’s not called a map for nothing.
Organise all the information you have gathered and put it into one, simple to understand, diagram. The way you organise it is really up to you and it doesn’t have to look flashy or have any fancy graphics. It’s just for your teams to reference and keep in mind as they work.
Types of customer journey maps
If you’re a little stuck on what exactly to include in your maps, or maybe you want a map that's a little different, here are some examples that are used often. As we said before, it’s really up to you and there are no hard and fast rules about how you should organise your journey map, so feel free to edit these as much as you’d like. Do whatever works for your company!
The clue’s in the name, right? These maps are all about the 'now'. What do your customers want right now? What's missing from their journey? How do we improve the CX that we're providing on a daily basis?
These maps help answer this question and they're more or less the map that we described above. The reason for this is that they’re one of the most common maps about. They help you drive cumulative changes within your business that can have a big impact on the level of CX you’re providing.
Future state maps are used when you want to predict what your customer experience will require in the future. Your aim is to figure out what your customers will want, what they will be feeling toward your brand and what new trends they may be expecting you to incorporate.
These maps are perfect for companies that are looking forward. They’re especially useful if you’ve made a customer journey map before or have one currently in use. They can build on that and help you in the development of new products or services that you have identified as important to your customers.
An empathy map is designed to help you understand how your customers are interacting with your product. Whilst a general customer journey map considers all aspects of a company, the empathy map does exactly what it says on the tin – it empathises with your customers.
Everything in an empathy map is about the product or service. How can a customer find the product? How can they purchase the product? Are we including enough information? Do customers become confused or frustrated at any point? Do we provide enough after-sale support? These are all questions an empathy map sets out to answer. They’re a fantastic way of improving your service/product and the CX surrounding that service/product.
Day in the life
Much like an empathy map, these maps are all about the persona. They consider what your customer is thinking and feeling but they take that one step further. Staying true to the name, these maps consider what a customer goes through on a daily basis.
They consider what profession customers work in, what activities they do, the places and people they interact with, even other brands that they interact with. All of these things build up a very informed view of what your customers are all about. This map, perhaps, helps reveal the most about your customers and really helps a company propel themselves forward with CX in mind.
Once you've created a customer journey map, every member of your company can see exactly what they’re working toward and exactly where they fit into delivering an unbeatable CX. But, companies are growing all the time. Goals change and so does the market that we’re working in. Customer experience mapping is an on-going process that should be refined and altered over the course of your company’s lifetime. If you’re looking for a little help improving your customer experience, or even just your customer service, get in touch with us today.