What is a customer journey?

A customer journey is the set of steps and interactions from the customer’s point of view needed to achieve an outcome with your company.

Customer journey mapping is the process of creating a visual representation of the customer journey. A journey map takes a customer’s needs, processes, and perceptions through the entirety of their interaction with an organization, and then diagrams that journey into a visual map. The more touch points a customer has along their way, the more complex the journey map becomes. What the customer encounters and feels as they progress between touchpoints on this journey forms the overall customer experience. Customer journey mapping can shorten and personalize the journey, resulting in a more positive experience.

A detailed customer journey map allows you to identify:

  • Opportunities
  • Insights
  • Issues
  • Impact
  • Innovation

To do this, the customer journey focuses on accessing four different factors:

  • What is the customer doing/how is the customer behaving?
  • What is the customer feeling?
  • What/whom is the customer interacting with?
  • What behind-the-scenes processes need to be taking place?

It’s been said that you’ll never really understand someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. Customer journey mapping allows you to do just that: placing yourself in your customers’ position and gaining a clearer understanding of their perspective. In addition to more clearly defining the realities of your customers’ experiences, journey mapping provides other advantages as well.

Provides an inbound perspective

Inbound marketing depends on your ability to create interesting and useful content to help generate interest and draw in prospective customers. Customer mapping gives you clever insight into your customers’ interests, as well as how they feel about individual aspects and touchpoints as they interact with your business. With this information, you can tailor your content offering to better attract and retain qualified leads.

Encourages proactive service

By mapping out the customer journey, you are able identify potential points of friction well in advance. You can then adjust your customer service strategy accordingly, intervening where necessary to increase your brand value and help cement a positive customer relationship. Being proactive makes your brand more reliable and helps you provide better support options for parts of the journey that may become difficult.

Identifies and refines target audiences

Locating and guiding prospective customers through their journey can be expensive, and when your leads fail to become customers, then all of that cost goes to waste. A detailed customer journey map can help you more clearly identify the demographics and traits of those who would be most interested in your services. By understanding their needs, pain points, and goals, you will be better positioned to market to the right audiences.

Improve customer retention rates

The customer journey isn’t designed only for new customers; a complete view of the customer journey provides opportunities to improve any areas that stand out as possibly problematic for returning customers as well. Customer journey mapping can help you identify those who might be considering leaving. By comparing journeys between churned customers, you may be able to identify common issues, which you can then then address to help ensure that future customers keep coming back again and again.

Creates a concise representation of the user experience for your entire organization

It can be difficult to coordinate all departments as your company grows. Sometimes, sales and marketing goals may not be aligned, or might not actually be relevant to your customers wants or needs. Your customer journey map supports a shared vision across departments. When adopted throughout your business, it can become the basis for decision-making, informing goals, supporting strategy, and aligning teams towards creating a better experience for your customers.

The journey that a customer takes is married to each instance that a customer comes in contact with your company. These instances include pre-purchase, mid- purchase, and post-purchase. When you break these three instances down into their constituent parts, there are seven phases of the customer journey to be aware of.

Out-of-market

This is the phase where a customer is looking to improve their business, and they want the company to be productive and efficient. At this point, they may not have a solution to achieve their goals, but they are open to inspiration and ideas.

Trigger

A customer uncovers the opportunity to grow and improve their business at this phase—they have identified an issue that could be resolved.

Initial consideration

After customers have identified a solution to their problem, they will begin to research. Stakeholders and a project group work to identify the top brands in the market they need, scope out a project, and review the key functionalities and requirements.

Active evaluation

Customers then take their long list of possible solutions and narrow it down to a short list of brands. Customers contact the vendors on the short list and invite them to a meeting or demo, at which point they will review the solutions based on their trust, expertise, and scalability.

Purchase decision

This is when the customer decides on a vendor, agrees on the solution, and works out a purchase contract. Implementation begins, and customers start to roll out a team. The solution provider supports the customer as they outline KPIs, success criteria, and a timeline.

Experience

Once the customer has found the solution and teamed up with a company, they want to get the solution up and running as quickly as possible, and they want a smooth launch process. It is important to ensure that all users are trained and have proper access to consultants or account managers for support.

Loyalty

Once the solution has been rolled out, the customer wants to see fast results. The provider of the solution follows up, implements the solutions, and continues to help the customer fulfill their goals. This phase is where customers become loyal as results are being delivered.

Understanding the importance of the customer journey map is only the first step. Before you can enjoy the advantages it offers, you first have to build it. Here, we break down the essential steps you’ll need to consider to create an effective journey map for your customers.

Define the scope for the map

  • Take the time to identify the persona that you are mapping, and provide a single point of view per map to build out a strong and clear narrative.
  • Choose the process that you’ll be mapping and ensure that it has a clear beginning, middle, and end point, and that it relates to the business insights you are seeking.
  • Conduct research using resources such as call center logs, field studies, usability results, and user feedback.
  • Include the goal of your personas and what their expectations are, as well as quantifiable expectations, such as time to completion.

Identify the journey phases

  • Think of the phases of the map as stages along the journey. If you’re mapping the user experience for onboarding, it’s possible that the journey may include setting up training, facilities access, benefits, and more.
  • Choose simplicity and craft a journey map that tells a simple story. That said, be sure to include all relevant information and touch points.

Map the user’s action steps and experiences for each phase

  • Document action steps for each phase of the journey, encompassing the actions that need to be taken. Most often you will have from four to twelve action steps, which may include learning about options, resolving questions, comparing choices, selecting services, etc.
  • For each step, clearly document customer emotions, pain points, and challenges.

Use your journey map to build a shared vision of the user experience

  • Create a journey map visualization and gather feedback from key users.
  • Use the journey map to identify potential opportunities to improve the customer experience and process.
  • Continuously socialize and evolve the customer journey map to improve its effectiveness over time.

Measure your success

The success of your customer journey map relates directly to how positive and successful the overall customer experience is that you are offering. With this in mind, you can use many of the same success metrics as those used to measure and evaluate CX. These metrics include the following:

  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
  • Customer Satisfaction Score (CSS)

  • Process owners
  • Technology owners
  • Upper management
  • End users
  • UX or UI representatives, such as an experience architect

Make customer service flow

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