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.
Word of mouth over time can either make or break any business. If customers have a good experience, they will tell others about how you made them feel, what you did to make them feel or how satisfied they were with your product.
But if a customer has a bad experience, research tells us there’s a higher chance that they’ll tell even more people about a bad experience than a good one.
With the evolution of technology, in particular, the rise of the Internet, word of mouth has grown beyond merely talking to one another directly.
Social media, review platforms and directories, and digital media are an example of how customers have more power than ever now.
As a business, there’s one thing that everyone dreads – a customer complaint.
Whist only one 1 in 26 unhappy customers will complain directly to you. And it might seem like an outlandish idea, but that one customer is doing you a favor.
No one wants to get negative feedback about their product or service – but this can be one of the best ways to know what you need to improve and what your customers expect of you.
A customer complaint highlights a problem, whether that’s a problem with your product, employees or internal processes, and by hearing these problems directly from your customers, you can investigate and improve to prevent further complaints in the future.
In fact, research suggests that if customer’s complaints are handled in a proper and prompt manner, that customer can actually become, not only loyal but a brand advocate.
Resolving a customer complaint doesn’t just save your reputation and branding, it can actually draw in more customers.
How to handle customer complaints
Receiving a complaint is nothing you need to hide from. Yes, it can be confronting, but there is a right way of handling complaints. No business is perfect, but it’s important to show your customers (as well as potential customers) that you are trying to improve.
Some tips to keep in mind:
Listen and understand
It is always important to listen to your customers. They haven’t made their complaint about no reason – you need to understand why they have made the complaint and what it means for you.
Research shows that customers care more about a quality service than a fast response. In this case, you should take the time to listen and understand the problem and to come up with the best solution.
Don’t be afraid to apologize for a mistake. There’s an age-old saying in business – “the customer is always right”, and whilst this may not always be true in your eyes, it’s how you made the customer ‘feel’ is what really matters.
While some customers may want action to be taken, many are simply looking for an apology and an acknowledgment that they have been heard.
The research showed that 45% of customers were willing to withdraw their complaint of an organization if they received an apology, while only 23% of customers withdrew their negative evaluation in return for compensation.
Find a solution
However, it’s important to keep in mind that apologizing isn’t simply enough. To ensure you do not receive a second complaint, you need to find a solution to your problem and resolve it.
As an organization, you need to band together and come up with a viable solution – how can you improve the product/service?
This may seem like it takes time, money and resources, but it will be worth it if it ensured you never hear that complaint from another customer again. By appeasing one customer complaint, you can be pleased with many more potential customers.
Follow up with the customer
Once you have apologized and implemented a solution, it’s important to give feedback to the customer in question. Let them know what changes you have made and how your business has acknowledged what their complaint was.
It’s important to follow up with customers to make sure they are satisfied with the solution.
Almost 70% of customers leave a company because they believe you don’t care about them. Following up shows you care. And this makes the customer feel important.
Once you have acknowledged the mistake, fixed the problem and followed up, you think you’re done, right?
Well not exactly, this is your opportunity to go beyond your customer’s expectations.
This could be anything from an handwritten thank you note or checking up with them in a few months to see if they are still satisfied with everything.
By doing this, the memory of whatever complaint they had about you will be a distant memory compared to the memory of how you cared for them as a customer.
Customers hold the key to the success of any company. So it’s vital that for your organization to get ahead of the competition, you need to listen to your customers.
It seems that everyone knows this – and yet most organizations struggle to keep the customers at the forefront of the business.
Those who do take on such a mentality – and are scaling customer focus – are the ones who are seeing the biggest growth in the customer base and in profit.
Did you know that happy customers are five times as likely to repurchase and three times as likely to recommend a business than unhappy customers?
So how can you ensure that your organization is ahead of the bunch? There’s plenty that can be done, and some are simpler than you think. Putting the customer first doesn’t have to be an expensive ordeal – but it does have to be a well thought out one.
The Six Key Ingredients
One of the most vital parts of any organization is the role of the leader. Look at a successful organization, chances are there was a strong leader at the helm of the company.
It is the responsibility of those at the very top to create a customer-centric culture. Without this kind of leadership, the chances of creating the maximum are low.
It’s a domino effect – if the leader believes in putting the customer first, then it will be followed by the lower managers and eventually all the staff in the organization.
Remember, leaders, set the tone for the organization.
Vision and Clarity
Going hand in hand with strong leadership is having a vision that is clear and simple to follow.
It needs to be specific so that everyone within the organization can easily understand the common goal.
The language that you use is crucial as it is a part of the “vision” you are trying to convey. Short simple statements are recommended.
It’s important that the vision you create is something that everyone – staff and customers – can support.
Engagement and Collaboration
While it is important to put the customer first and value their experience, you cannot ensure happy customers without a happy staff.
Employees need to engage and committed to sharing the vision you and your organization are hoping to achieve.
To truly engage your workforce, you have to understand them – what do they like about their work? What do they dislike? Get feedback from them about what they think might make the customers happier.
If staff feel like they are involved in the implementation of better customer service, they will be more engaged.
Listening and Learning
This is one of the simplest steps that so many organizations get wrong – listening to your customer and learning from what they say.
The best way to do this is by having a systematic method for monitoring and collecting customer feedback.
This process is only half done when you have collected this information – if you want to see real improvements in your customer experience, organization has to adapt to the customer.
With that collected information, really analyze what people what and how those changes and improvements can be implemented in the organization.
Alignment and Action
For an organization to succeed – all the different “parts” need to be aligned and working together.
If the organization is marching towards the same vision, and everyone knows what role they have to play, the more likely the organization to find success.
In terms of action, these are measurable steps that are taken to improve the customer experience. This requires a clear plan of what needs to be done and by who.
If everyone involved in not aligned, then you’ll find the actionable steps that are taken will be less effective.
Patience and Commitment
This is probably the most challenging step that organizations deal with – have the patience to see results.
You’ll often find that most places want a quick band-aid fix, they want to see improvements and real results overnight. But that’s not how it works.
The right customer culture cannot be done quickly and it cannot be outsourced.
Like it or not, the most successful customer-centric organizations in the world are built in an iterative fashion over a number of years.
This organisation is not rigid in their method either – it is slowly altered, practices are refined, and action becomes widespread and aspirational.
It takes all six of these “key ingredients” to truly a success in customer culture. It is imperative that all along this journey, leadership must demonstrate patience and commitment to the process and vision.