Mapping the customer experience

Determining customer needs, wants and pain points to find solutions

Reimagining the customer experience begins with a deep understanding of how it currently functions at every touchpoint across a company. It’s the building block for everything that follows, from figuring out what should be changed to picking where to prioritize changes and what tools to use for creating a better experience.

Mapping the customer journey includes several important steps: figuring out how customers interact with the company, knowing what they expect from those interactions, and starting to identify some of the tools that can help close the gap between what they experience and what they want.

Mapping touchpoints

Getting a clear view of the customer experience often starts with finding all of the touchpoints or interactions they have with the company.

In the digital age, most companies already offer numerous touchpoints for customers. But most don’t work well together, creating a clunky experience. If you contact a company via a web form, for example, you might receive an email in response. But if you prefer to continue discussing the issue over the phone, disparate systems could mean you have to share all of your information again on a call just so the service agent can re-start the process.

Companies can start finding touchpoints by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes, SurveyMonkey suggests. Navigating the company as a user might even include finding all touchpoints for someone looking to become a customer, someone purchasing a company product or service, and someone using what they’ve purchased. Finding the interactions someone would have at each of these stages also means looking across all channels such as the company website, social media, the service phone system, support emails, and more.

Identifying all touchpoints and across all of the available channels provides another important layer in mapping the customer experience—finding every company team involved.

Different aspects of the customer experience typically fall under the responsibility of teams such as marketing, sales, commerce, and service. But it’s important they all take equal ownership in creating new and improved workflows. Customer experience outcomes “tend to diminish when marketing or any other single department attempts to lead and execute” the customer experience strategy on their own, according to Gartner.

And customers don’t evaluate a company or decide whether to keep using its products and services based on individual touchpoints. So, “even if employees execute well on individual touchpoint interactions, the overall experience can still disappoint,” as McKinsey notes.

Understanding the customer

Once a company has identified all of its customer touchpoints, it should assess how these touchpoints shape the customer experience. That means looking at:

  • The steps customers need to take to complete certain goals or resolve problems;
  • What information isn’t readily available to customers for completing each step or determining the next step they need to take; and
  • How easy it is for customers to contact the company for support if they can’t find information or resolve an issue on their own.

This can help companies build a map showing the strengths and weaknesses of each touchpoint and the collective experience those interactions provide customers. The next step is to evaluate how customers feel about that experience.

Deloitte suggests understanding customer sentiments through approaches including:

  • Conducting qualitative and quantitative studies that reveal customer behaviors and decision-making patterns
  • Surveying customers about whether the company is meeting, exceeding, or lagging on customer expectations
  • Gathering customer feedback as they have different interactions with the company
  • Monitoring social media and review sites for customer comments

Doing these assessments can help companies start to find the gaps between customer expectations and how they feel about what’s currently being delivered. But not all metrics are created equal. It’s important to evaluate all customer experience metrics across the company, Gartner says. Companies should avoid relying on one customer experience metric above all others, too. Some metrics may measure lagging or shorter-term effects, while others show long-term trends.
Done right, the completed mapping process offers a solid foundation for picking the best tools to apply and fine-tune changes for delivering a great customer experience.

Continue learning about customer experience management:

See why it’s time to rethink customer experience and what it could look like
Read about steps to take once the customer experience is mapped
Find key statistics for making the case to redesign the customer experience