The customer journey is an integral element to understand customer experience effectively and gain advantages from it. It is the sum of different stages through which a customer passes, beginning from the first encounter with the brand until the post-purchase interaction. Accordingly, it consists of awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation, purchase.
If you want to provide a stimulating customer experience that compels clients to go into the next stage, you need to have effective strategies in place for each of these phases. But, how do you ensure your strategies are executed systematically after fully understanding your customers?
This is when the power of mapping comes into play.
What is customer journey mapping?
Simply defined, it is the process of visualizing the customer journey with details specific to your business. It records every engagement that occurs between the customer and the brand. Essentially, you get into the shoes of your customer, appropriate their perspective, and map out their journey with your brand from the beginning to end. In order to do this, you have to clearly identify the stages of the customer journey and outline every aspect of customer experience related to each phase.
Customer journey mapping is no simple task. For a successful effort, the map has to be outlined after extensive research to gather relevant details. What’s important to remember is that there’s no one-size-fits-all map to explain the customer journey. There might be a need to create multiple maps to fit different types of buyers and how they interact with the brand. Moreover, it should be refined and developed with time as customers’ interactions change over time.
Why is it so important?
Mapping out the customer journey is an inevitable responsibility of every CX team. It is a vital aspect of customer experience management for many reasons.
1. Understand your customers better
If you have a thorough understanding of every customer interaction, you will have a clear idea about their tastes, preferences, expectations, and other notable behavioral patterns. This way, it’s easier to align every business activity towards the requirements of the customers. Instead of making assumptions about what’s best for your customers, you can make use of information that will grant you near-accurate solutions. Without a detailed map that outlines every touchpoint of the customer, this task will be really difficult.
2. Identify customer pain points
Every customer-centric business would want to make the buying experience a seamless one for their clients. One of the most effective ways to do this is by understanding the various pain points that customers face at different stages of the customer journey. Mapping will ensure that the identified pain points are properly structured, categorized, and well-detailed so that you can approach to solve them one by one. Moreover, it will also help you pinpoint their root causes and address them effectively.
3. Personalized customer experience
Customer journey mapping is a blueprint for successful customer experience. It gives you insights into various customer types and market niches in which your product/service is demanded. With this knowledge, you can design personalized marketing and sale content that appeal to each customer segment. It also helps you reach different customers with the most appropriate channels to engage with them.
4. Tackle gaps
Another unignorable benefit of mapping is the ability to spot loopholes, market gaps, and other pitfalls of your brand. According to Infiniti Research, a customer journey map is an effective technique to identify existing gaps between expected customer experience and actual customer experience. Using this, you can refine the service provided for high conversion rates and better customer retention.
5. You will simply sell more
But how customer journeys pay off? Customer journeys create a more predictive performance of business outcomes than touchpoints can alone. A McKinsey study shows that customer journey performance is 20-30 % more related to high revenue, repeat purchase, and positive word of mouth but also lower churn of customers. Overall, businesses that focus on customer journeys are inclined to have various rewards as they tend to sell more and win the market.
Useful tips to remember
As a final note, here are some useful tips to help you draft a good customer journey map for your brand.
Walkthrough your brand like a customer to evaluate the level of customer experience more accurately.
Always have a buyer persona in mind before you start. It will help you narrow down your focus and pay attention to nitty-gritty details.
Once you have identified pain points and issues, include actionable activities to rectify them along with a responsible employee to be in charge of it.
Make your mapping process context-specific aligning with the present trends of customer experience.
Rely on customer feedback, reviews, and queries to detail each phase more comprehensively.
Constantly update and improve your maps to enhance its impact on your business activities.
Now more than ever we live in an ever-changing business environment and also businesses face this pandemic like never before.
The COVID-19 pandemic has focused new attention on customer experience.
How can companies wisely move forward into the new normal, while keeping customers at the center of decision making?
Join the online CX Forum as we discuss the evolution of customer experience with global CX thought-leader, Richard Owen – a co-founder of OCX Cognition and one of the leads in the team that invented NPS,
We’ll cover topics including:
How visionary companies should think about their long-term response to a changing world
What we know about how companies have already responded
Principles for approaching the practical challenges posed by the rapid changes in the market
The role of Net Promoter Score and when you should be asking the ‘ultimate question’
Insights into how customer experience is evolving across the globe and across sectors
Insights from companies that are putting customers first during this challenging period
Key considering when designing customer experience in response to the new normal
How to adapt your strategy to create customer satisfaction and loyalty
Best practice approaches to measuring and evaluating customer experience during COVID-19 and into the future
About the speakers:
Richard Owen, CEO OCX Cognition
Richard Owen has a singular professional focus: Delivering financial value through CX. He co-founded OCX Cognition to combine technology and programmatic consulting in pursuit of that goal, and now leads the company’s coordinated efforts to deliver the right solutions for its clients.
Richard’s 30-year career has centered on transforming business operations with technology, and he is one of the best-known CX thought leaders. While CEO at Satmetrix, his team led the development of the Net Promoter Score® methodology with Fred Reichheld, creating the world’s most widely used CX measurement approach. With Laura Brooks, he co-authored Answering the Ultimate Question, the best-selling “how-to” guide for NPS practitioners.
Lauren Todorovic, CEO CarePage & CoFounder CX Forum
Jaakko Männistö: CEO Feedbackly & CoFounder CX Forum
is the King’ and no one’s kidding about it.
an era where the business world is a spectrum of intense competition, every
organization must strive to survive by utilizing the best strategies available
out there. Even though you might already be aware of this, a good, loyal
customer is the ultimate asset of every business, paramount for its growth and
success. In this regard, valuing your customers and treating them with priority
above anything else is important but not sufficient.
successful business knows its customers in and out and is aware of how the
customer has been with them throughout. If you are running a business that has
fully realized the importance of customers, bravo! But, do you know them well
enough to confidently predict they are loyal clients who will come back again
just like they made it the first time?
is when knowing about the customer journey comes to your rescue.
What is Customer Journey?
Journey can be identified as the process through which a customer interacts
with the business and its brand from the time of coming into contact with its
product or service until the present moment. In other words, think of it as a
story that unfolds how the customer first met your product and engaged with it
afterward, be it positively or negatively.
customer journey is not about providing a snapshot of a single event of
contact. Instead, it looks at the overarching picture by taking into account a
collection of notable experiences or actions. Therefore, for your business, it
is an analysis of a sequence of experiences that sums up the overall engagement
of the customer with the brand.
Phases of Customer Journey
order to understand customers’ take on your brand from their perspective, you
must be knowledgeable about the different phases they go through from beginning
to end. The customer journey can be segmented into five distinct stages namely
awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and loyalty. There can be also
any type of customer journeys such as a simpler Pre-Purchase, Purchase, and
Post-Purchase segments of phase and inside of these phases there can be
multiple touchpoints. These journeys vary per business and are always unique
but it is important to understand the big picture.
the first stage, focus on the identification of the problem that your
product/service intends to solve. The customer, after realizing the need for
your product, must search for it through various online and offline methods.
Here, include all the channels through which you have advertised and promoted
what you sell.
is the stage where the customer begins to show an interest in your product and
considers purchasing it. It’s an important stage for both the customer and the
business. The customer must ensure that his/her preference will be able to
satisfy the need for the best potential while the business must utilize this
phase to make the product very appealing to the customer.
customer decides to try your product and purchases it. Every customer prefers
this phase to be well-streamlined so that they don’t face any kind of hassle
when performing the transaction. Therefore, this is a make or break point for
the business because if your website isn’t user-friendly to handle, or
salespeople aren’t helpful enough, the customer won’t return. The customer will
be observant of how the product is delivered, the packaging, and the speed of
processing the transaction.
is the post-purchase phase determined by the impression made by the product and
the business. In order to reinforce your brand image, customer’s expectations
must be met by the product delivering high satisfaction. In a successful
retention phase, the customer will be motivated to purchase from the brand
again and keep up with the latest updates.
customer has built a lasting relationship with the brand and actively engages
with it. The customer will participate in events organized by the enterprise,
like the launch of a new product. Good customer experience will compel
customers to be advocates of the product, thereby expanding the potential
client base of the business.
order to reap the maximum rewards, you must visualize the customer journey in a
way it can be used to examine, evaluate, and strategize consistently. This is known
as a customer journey map. It includes every aspect of interaction, experience,
and challenge a customer goes through in each stage of the journey.
How to Map Customer Journey?
comprehensive mapping of the customer journey is essential to understand a
customer’s course of action throughout the buying process. It’s crucial to
remember that the customer journey must be mapped from a customer’s point of
view. Also, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a customer journey
map because you have to consider the different demographics and behaviors of
the customers. So, you can have multiple customer maps, which can be
advantageous when you design various marketing strategies.
customer journey map should include all the above phases well-defined according
to the details of your brand. In each phase, focus on the kinds of media,
advertising channels, and people in your organization customers interact with.
Also, list potential problems and issues and the questions they have in each
phase. Finally, determine which functional unit of your organization is
responsible for handling the customer in each phase.
Rewards of Evaluating the
today’s digital world, businesses reach out to customers in many ways, and
therefore tracing what led a customer to act in a certain way is a very complex
task. Finding out what compelled the customer to initiate the purchase, or what
made the customer turn away is impossible unless you link all the ways in which
your brand has communicated with a potential customer.
understanding the customer journey, you will be able to get a clear grasp of
customers’ motivations when it comes to seeking your brand and cater to their
demands better. You can look at the way they act or respond when they shop at
your store or website and induce repetitive purchase behavior using fruitful
your customers is not just about being intuitive or making predictions by
assessing the surface-level engagement. It’s about diving deep to comprehend
their expectations, disappointments, and challenges throughout the sales
process. Many businesses utilize this concept to understand customer behavior
and evaluate customer experience effectively. So, make use of it to drive your
marketing strategies and customer service forward.
Today, a strategic understanding of the customer journey can become an indispensable tool for the business to succeed and grant it a competitive edge over its rivals. The customer journey, in reality, is too complex, and therefore you may not be able to include everything on the map. Having a basic outline at first and then improving it as you go along can help. Moreover, remember to keep your analysis of customer journey up-to-date by making consistent changes according to the changing nature of the business environment.
I’m a startup entrepreneur, founder and award-winning customer experience professional at @feedbacklyapp as well as the founder of the biggest entrepreneurial digital community in Finland – Yrittäjä.io. I’m also a notorious keynote speaker from entrepreneurial stories to day to day human communications and personal branding. At most I enjoy coaching golf, sailing, smoothies, and triathlon
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not only popular in headlines these days – but there is also an increasing number of published research papers on subjects pertaining to AI, making it an all-round hot topic. Although there is a lot of hype and anticipation about forthcoming implications, there still aren’t many everyday AI business solutions in use. What if changes were made now to apply the current technology in a smarter way?
Natural language processing (NLP) is not a new topic; however, recent advancements in AI, applied to machine learning in NLP, have not only improved accuracy but also made NLP more cost-effective. In fact, nowadays, almost any company can start utilizing text analysis to at least some extent.
Let’s consider the implications and benefits in relation to customer experience. AI with NLP can contribute in three ways:
(1) Customer insight
(3) New services
By utilizing text analytics, companies have the ability to analyze unstructured data sources, such as customer surveys and social media. This data can then be combined with existing data to provide even deeper customer insight. Text analytics brings efficiency to analysis work, but it can also be applied to something like message routing, where it would eliminate the need to perform manual tasks.
Alongside AI’s value in contributing positive benefits to customer insight and efficiency, another huge opportunity is in utilizing AI with NLP for the development of totally new product.
Ville is a founder of Helsinki Intelligence and a customer experience professional focusing on artificial intelligence and analytics solutions.
The customer journey will be reborn and start breaking the silos
By now the concept of the customer journey has already been known for quite some time. But what we are seeing based on thousands and thousands of customer engagements is that the ideology is re-emerging. Companies will also reel their KPIs and metrics to service customer journeys but also use the same ideology for innovations and service improvements as well as improving their internal well being! This said I think that the year 2019 will be the year when companies really start breaking their data silos and stop using separate systems to collect the data. A single touchpoint approach has already been living far too long. he realm of customer experience that focuses on the customer journey and sentiment as they traverse through the product/service is helping define the lifetime value of a customer. There are a tremendous opportunity and emergence of customer data platforms that go beyond the 360-degree view of a customer to enable cohorts and clusters to enable better targeting for up-sell/cross-sell.
How are we doing – the second coming of the employee experience
Many times in the hassle of trying to improve the customer experience we tend to forget that it is our own people that create those experiences. Happy employees create happy customers. And finally, this seems to be catching off! For the first time in 10 years, we can see lots of investments in measuring and improving one’s employee experience and companies are taking this matter more and more seriously.
Digital integration continues
Companies will continue to take the next steps in using integrations and automating their process also in customer experience. This is a global phenomenon and cannot be neglected in cx world. Data will move more frictionless from system to system but also e.g. tricking the surveys throughout the customer journeys and managing the entire process automatically is turning into everyday life for marketers and cx professionals.
New CX leaders will emerge
Still to hear that someone is ”A chief customer experience officer” is rare and it will still continue to be. Mainly because there are very few people on the market that actually understand through experience have to lead customer experiences on a strategic level. Now, this is of course controversy because companies are racing to bring CX to be their main strategy for competitiveness. This said, there will be more and more incompetent CX managers on the market and it will take still more time for them to gain experience. But also it warms my soul to say that there are more and more really high-level professionals among customer experience and they are moving to senior positions faster than ever!
ps. An interesting trend we are seeing inside CX leaders and managers is that they are starting to call themselves the “Journey managers” or “Journey leaders” which is furthermore emphasizing the importance of customer journeys in the field of CX.
Connecting to business results
This might sound a bit obvious but during my career, I have seen countless companies and leaders who do CX “Just because you need to” or “Because it is trendy right now”. From my perspective, I see that this phenomenon is finally declining and companies are requesting and also trying to also understand better themselves how they try to connect CX into their other business objectives. It might be as simple as bringing it together with the simple sales data and see some correlation or something a bit more complex depending on the industry. Still, for most companies in the market, there is still a lot of educating to do!
One of the best ways to harness CX data can be to link it to increased sales (NPS trend X sales trend), exposure (How much reviews are we creating?), and loyalty are as a predictor of future consumer behavior. This becomes increasingly important as promoters are extremely likely to recommend the company to others. In contrast, detractors are extremely unlikely to make recommendations and are responsible for 80% to 90% of a company’s negative word of mouth. This said I can also add that about 73% of the promoters spread positive WOM!! So in the end, the most important thing is that you ask yourself “How does this support my business goals?” and act accordingly.
The next generation of AI
Surprise! With the help of new technologies and AI, businesses are going to be able to take more action on their data – real actionable insights. Machine learning, AI, and heuristic neural networks are giving this technology the ability to combine scenarios, increase understanding, and make real-time predictive decisions but the most impact we will see when natural language processing and intelligence categorization are combined for the help data analytics. This development is still baby steps but crucial to get it right at first. If intelligent categorization does not work, it is merely impossible to move to the next step of predictive analytics.
With these, it is good to go towards the end of 2019 and full on to 2020 and rock your customer’s world even bigger and better!