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My Take On Customer Journey Maps And CX Strategy

My Take On Customer Journey Maps And CX Strategy
Ash Bhoopathy

Introduction

Customer Journey Mapping (or Customer Journey Analytics) is the process of understanding the impact of every single interaction a customer has with your business.

Like a good map, a Customer Journey Map is presented as a graphic, a flow chart, or another visual, and gives a quick executive overview.

However, journey maps are also linked and supported by minute detail at the process level.

Customer journey mapping are essential for managing the company’s core business and the sequences of actions and reactions that occur between company and customer in that core process.

In this post I'll provide an overview of customer journey maps and CX strategy.

And how I recommend you use them to practice continuous improvement in your organization.

The Benefits

One of the key values of doing a Customer Journey Map is to arrive at a common understanding within the company of what the customer experience feels like.

Particularly if your employees are not themselves frequent or regular customers. (Which is more and more the case in modern business)

It’s essential to understand how one moves through your buying cycle.

And be able to empathize with that point of view when making key decisions.

Customer journey mapping also helps a company take a step back from existing internal silos, which customer's do NOT care about.

Viewing operations from an external view empowers you to gain insights and improve cross functional collaboration.

Downstream, the quantifiable benefits can be many:

  • Increase customer loyalty and customer lifetime value
  • Less burden on your customer support team
  • Positive feedback for marketing campaigns
  • Constructive customer feedback for your product or service
  • Higher customer satisfaction scores

The Disadvantages

The key challenge with customer journey mapping is how hard it can be to get everyone on the same page.

Like a lot of things, success boils down to people one way or another.

Especially when there are different interpretations of what customer experiences should be.

This is especially a challenge when we work with companies with multiple channels and a large global presence.

A second key challenge is it's hard to track all the interactions customers have with your company.

Make sure to keep the possible pitfalls in mind:

  • Higher customer feedback costs
  • Customer expectations may go up if you're bothering to collect customer feedback
  • Customer success teams need to be bought in
  • Especially if you’re a small business and don’t have the resources to invest heavily in the Voice of the Customer.

But even then, it’s important to try and get as close as you can.

A Few More Examples

A Customer Journey Map also captures data points or series including:

  • The process being evaluated
  • The stages of the journey
  • Critical interactions and touch points
  • Representative customer quotes
  • Customer emotions (high and low)
  • Key customer needs/expectations
  • Metrics like satisfaction score, mention volume, NPS
  • Trends in topics related to this part of the journey

When Should You Do Customer Journey Mapping?

A good rule of thumb is anytime you’re making changes or updates to your CX strategy, it’s a good time to map the customer journey.

This might be in response to new products or services, changes to your organizational structure, or a change in your target market.

New Customer Experience Strategy

One of the most common reasons to map the customer journey is when you’re developing a new customer experience strategy.

When done right, this will be a comprehensive and collaborative effort that looks at your customer journeys end-to-end, taking into account all channels and customer touchpoints.

Organizational Change

Anytime there’s a change in your organizational structure, it’s a good idea to update your customer journey map.

This could be something as small as adding a new team of direct reports or process, or as large as a merger or acquisition.

Changes in Target Market

If you’re making changes to your target market, it will likely have an impact on your customer journey.

For example, if you’re targeting a new customer segment, you’ll need to consider what their needs and expectations are.

Their pain points.

And how that fits into your current customer journey.

For Market Research

Another great reason to map the customer's experience is to target your marketing communications.

When companies build out new products and offerings, there's no better way to go to market than by using the Voice of the Customer.

What do your customers demand?

What are your customer personas?

Take a walk in the customer's shoes.

What are their pain points?

These are all hallmarks of building a strong marketing campaign.

How Often Should You Map?

Generally speaking a good idea to review and update your journey map on a regular basis, at least annually.

One note of caution, though.

Customer journey mapping is an essential part of any company’s CX strategy.

But it only works if you have the right team in place to make it happen.

At the end of the day, customer experience is all about people.

Your employees are the face of your company and they need to be properly trained and equipped to deliver an exceptional experience every time.

CX strategy starts with leadership buy-in and commitment to making the customer experience a priority.

I've seen way too many companies and ambitious individuals overthink and overdo it.

Why You Should Avoid Customer Journey Mapping Templates

A lot of times when people want to get started with journey mapping, they search for a template.

I’ve got news for you.

There is no one-size-fits-all customer journey map template.

Every Company Is Different

And therefore every customer experience will be different.

Trying to force your company into a pre-made template will only set you back.

Your journey map should be unique to your company, your brand, and your customers.

Not to mention, templates take away the opportunity to really think through the process and understand it from start to finish.

When you use a template, you might end up with a pretty picture.

But it won’t be an accurate representation.

Instead, use a framework to determine your own stages.

A Practical Framework For Mapping Your Own Customer Journey Stages

1. Start with your customer’s goals

What are they trying to achieve? What are the top customer expectations?

2. Understand the steps they take to reach their goal

What are the key interactions and touchpoints along the way?

3. Assign an emotion to each stage

How does the customer feel at each stage of the journey? What were the customer expectations along with these emotions?

4. Determine what your customer base needs/expects at each stage

What are the key needs and expectations of the customer at each stage? Again, customer expectations.

5. Identify the top pain points and other challenges

What stops the customer from achieving their goal? What's the ONE paint point they experience?

6. Document it all in a visually appealing way

Make sure you represent your data in an easy-to-understand format.

Visual representation is important.

That's why companies like Tableau make the big bucks.

Then, once you have this framework, it’s time to start filling in the details.

The best way to do this is with customer interviews.

How To Conduct Customer Interviews For Your Journey Map

There are a few different ways to conduct customer interviews.

You can do them over the phone, through email, or in person.

Or use focus groups if you have the resources. Leading brands tend to go this route.

Personally, I think the best way to get accurate information is by talking to your customers live.

This way, you can see their nonverbal cues and really understand how they feel about their experience.

How To assign The Actual Stages

1. Look for patterns

As you’re conducting your customer interviews, start looking for patterns.

Are there certain stages that keep coming up?

Are there steps that are always followed in the same order?

The more you talk to customers, the easier it will be to see these patterns.

2. Create stage names that make sense

Once you’ve identified the key stages, it’s time to give them names.

And I don’t mean just labeling them “stage one, two, three, etc.”

Come up with names that accurately describe what happens during that stage of the journey.

This will make it easier and more importantly MEANINGFUL for you and your team to reference later on.

3. Document, document, document

Make sure you document everything.

Customer interviews, stage names, key interactions, emotions…everything.

You might not need to use all of it right away.

But it’s important to have a record of what was said and what was decided.

This will come in handy down the road when you start putting the complete picture together.

Conclusion

There's no one-size-fits-all customer journey map template.

Every company is different and therefore every customer experience will be different.

Trying to force your company into a pre-made template is a pointless exercise.

The whole point is to improve YOUR understanding of the Voice of the Customer.

So never let journey mapping dictate your customer experience strategy.

If it's a chore, you must question why.

The journey map should be unique to your company, your brand, and your customers.

Not to mention, templates take away the opportunity to really think through the process and understand it from start to finish.

Thank you for reading!

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