Eight steps to effective customer journey mapping.

Suzanne Maguire
On: 20 Jun 2019
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Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping works: it delivers huge return on investment, such as improving the cost of customer service and speeding up sales cycles.

It began as a business management technique more than two decades ago, but its popularity and adoption has soared as customer experience [CX] has become one of the main ways for companies to stand out from the competition. More than two-thirds of companies compete mostly on the basis of CX, and two years from now, 81% expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.

Customer journey mapping is a way of visually showing every experience that customers have with a company, and what they lead to. Going through this exercise gives businesses a fresh and valuable point of view about the many interactions they have with customers: beyond just a transaction to buy a product or service, to include early pre-sales research, like test-driving a car, or post-sales support.

It sounds easy but applying this perspective in practice can be difficult. Most businesses are naturally inward-looking, hard-wired to apply a laser focus on optimising their own products and services. As the saying goes, if you build a better mousetrap, then the world will beat a path to your door. But this mindset assumes that the features in that product alone will attract customers. 

One of the biggest challenges in business is to truly walk in the customer’s shoes. In this blog, we’ll take a look at how companies can get started with customer journey mapping and how it can help them to ensure every step of that journey is optimised.

Start small.

Start with a single product or your biggest customer journey, and begin that map by asking: how did our customers find out about us? Doing this, you might find lots of inroads to your brand: that could be social media, an online search, or even word of mouth. Soon, the journey will start with how you develop your advertising and marketing. Ultimately, it will allow you to look at every experience a customer has with your business, like contacting your support area, even if it isn’t directly linked to sales.

Focus on the process, not the programme.

When creating these documents or blueprints for the journeys, the most important point is just to start the process. This isn’t exclusive to large corporates that can engage external consultancies to build complicated frameworks. In fact, the process is very accessible to smaller businesses who can use freely available templates and examples they can find by searching online. Using these templates as a guide, you can literally draw the map on a piece of paper, writing out what you know about customer interactions. In the long term, if it’s something you’re really passionate about, you may want to put a lot of structure around your customer experience (CX) efforts, but for now, you can start for little or no cost. It’s well worth doing as a business because it focuses attention on the areas that matter most to your customers and prospects.

Understand the different interactions.

It’s important to realise that certain parts of the customer journey may matter more than others. Some, like test driving a car, go a long way towards deciding the outcome; i.e. a successful sale. But the mapping process will reveal other opportunities to delight your customers. During this stage, think about all of the touch points where a customer or prospect interacts with your organisation. How many times will they interact before they decide to buy? Are there too many or too few of these moments? Which of these steps has the most value, and why? Do any of the points indicate where a customer is more or less likely to buy? Where does the customer start to feel friction or frustration at the experience? If you include a positive service like a loyalty programme, or free offers, are these schemes easy to use?

Get buy-in.

While it’s easy to start and to get going, producing customer journey maps needs buy-in from across the entire company. The process should involve many stakeholders within the business who understand different parts of the customer journey, whether that’s pre-sales, post-sales, or support. It’s critically important to have support from all levels, because this is a significant cultural change within an organisation. The result will refocus efforts towards looking at the company through customers’ eyes; a 180-degree flip from how many businesses operate today.

Gather the data.

Get contributions based on people’s real-life experience on both sides: that is, the customer experience and how your organisation delivers that service. This prompts questions like: is that the ideal experience you want customers to have? Could it be made simpler or faster? Then, having started to understand key points in the journey, back this up with focus groups and research. Get as much data as possible to support the stories and experiences.

Iterate constantly.

Once you map the start of the journey and identify the critical points along the way, you have the information to start making those points seamless and friction-free. Make improvements, measure, and monitor how customers respond. Feed this data back into your mapping process to refine it further. The more you know, the more you can optimise different aspects.

You may be able to use technology to improve an interaction or alleviate a pain point; this is more likely to be the case for a digital customer experience such as buying online. Other times, your mapping process might lead you towards a more analogue solution, such as asking staff members to greet customers in a particular way.

Work on delivering consistency.

There are so many ways for customers to interact with a business, between social channels, telephone support, or a visit to a store, but from the customer’s perspective, they’re dealing with one single entity. It’s a huge source of frustration for anyone to have to give the same details over and over again if they’re dealing with different people. Use the findings from the journey mapping process to identify ways to ensure a consistent customer experience, no matter how they interact.

Reap the benefits.

‘Know your customer’ is a truism of business; another is that it’s easier to retain existing customers than attract new ones. Customer journey mapping is a simple yet powerful way to help businesses get a fresh perspective on the many ways they interact with their customers, and how to start making small yet significant steps to doing so more effectively.

Interested in discovering more ICT trends? Visit Three’s Business Learning Centre.