This blog aims to expand on the concept of a customer journey map and the top requirements for an effective one.
Let’s begin with defining a customer journey map.
A customer journey map is a visual depiction of the various touchpoints and the channels through which your prospect will interact with your brand. It is also referred to as the buyer journey or user journey.
The customer journey map helps businesses to create personalized experiences specific to each touchpoint and channel. For example, the buyer experiences that one would have while shopping offline is entirely different from that of an online purchase. In an offline purchase outdoor advertising could be a probable channel of interaction while in online shopping, digital channels like social media advertising could play a vital role.
According to David Weaver (co-founder of Vintage Cash Cow), “A successful customer journey map will give you a real insight into what your customers want and any parts of your product, brand or process that aren’t delivering.”
Each customer journey map needs to be customized based on the user persona and their pain points. Also, the map must be charted in such a way that it takes into account the user’s journey through the sales funnel.
The image below is an example of a customer journey map for a B2C retail buyer.
Note how the journey traverses alternatively through physical and digital touchpoints before culminating in the sale and the subsequent word-of-mouth advocacy. Also, the customer is nudged from one funnel phase to another easily until the stage where the purchase is completed.
It is also noteworthy that there is no standard template for a customer journey map. Each business must create its own customized map so that the buyer journey is smooth and hassle-free.
The need for a well-defined customer journey map
From aviation to agriculture, each business is unique in its way. They all try to target and win a diverse range of customers who again have varied interests, wants, and expectations. To address these varying customer expectations and to maximize sales, a well-defined customer journey map is essential.
There are several benefits that a customer journey map can provide to your business.
- It creates a customer-centric sales process
- It fuels your marketing strategy
- It heightens the customer experience
- It creates a unique brand identity
It creates a customer-centric sales process
Most businesses have a solid sales process in place. But, not all of them have a sales process that is customer-centric. The ideal sales process should deliver the right information at the right time through the right channel to the customer. A customer journey map helps with that.
It fuels your marketing strategy
A customer journey map helps the marketing team to create a marketing strategy that is refined and future-focused. It helps avoid reiterations to the strategy and helps the marketing team focus its efforts towards well-defined goals and metrics.
It heightens the customer experience
Customer experience expectations vary significantly across physical and digital channels. The customer journey map helps in knowing what kind of experience would be expected and work across all touchpoints. Also, this would lead to a direct improvement in CX and the business is now focused on each channel and touchpoint individually than the CX as a wholly abstract concept.
It creates a unique brand identity
A unique customer journey map and the CX that it delivers create a unique brand identity for your brand. Your customers become aware of how your business operates, how to approach it for a purchase, and what needs to be done for resolutions, if any, at a later stage.
How to create a customer journey map?
Like mentioned earlier, there is no standard template for a customer journey map that will work for everyone. However, there are broad steps that every business in any industry can follow to create its customer journey map. Those steps are:
- Define your user persona
- Understand buyer goals
- Map physical and digital touchpoints
- Design CX across touchpoints
- Inspect Moments of Truth
- Take cues from Voice of Customer
- Implement, measure, improve
1. Define your user persona
A user persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. It usually takes the form of a single-page document with a fictional name, designation, and other intricate details of the user behavior. For example, the user’s internet usage behavior, possible pain areas as a prospect, the usual methods they follow to solve a problem, and so on.
While creating a customer journey map, it is necessary to make it specific and with maximum details as possible. A detailed user persona will help in two things: understand their goals and also their CX expectations. The user persona can be considered to be the starting point and even the foundation for the customer journey map.
2. Understand buyer goals
The ultimate objective of a customer journey map is to lead the customer to a purchase. To create an effective customer journey map, it is necessary to understand buyer goals and create a journey that revolves around them. This also helps in making the journey funnel-focused – nudging the customer from awareness through consideration, and ultimately conversion.
While trying to decipher buy goals, there are few things to be kept in mind. There is no single buyer goal. Each customer would have a slightly different goal and also have different expectations while trying to achieve it. For example, one cohort of customers could be willing to wait slightly longer for a better experience for a complicated transaction, while another cohort might be inclined towards finishing a quick task within the shortest time frame possible.
A detailed understanding of buyer goals and their intricacies is critical when creating the customer journey map.
3. Map physical and digital touchpoints
Any customer journey map would have a combination of physical and digital touchpoints. It is this combination that makes a customer journey map a matter of strategic importance. Also, except on rare occasions, no customer is ever going to purchase based on a single touchpoint. They are going to alternate between physical and digital touchpoints before arriving at the purchase stage. This makes it mandatory to have a customer journey map that integrates both physical and digital touchpoints.
The physical touchpoints usually have outdoor advertising, press releases, print media, while digital channels take the form of social media, newsletters, blogs, and websites. At any point in time, the physical and digital touchpoints must have consistency in voice and tone. They must also maintain relevancy in messaging to keep moving the customer along the journey.
4. Design CX across touchpoints
Customer experience (CX) is a relative concept. What is defined as delightful by one cohort of customers might be found distasteful by another cohort. However, when the touchpoints, channels, and buyer goals are clearly defined, it is possible to design a CX that impresses most. Once the above steps are completed, it is necessary to design a CX that is contextually relevant and delightful to customers at the specific stage of the journey.
CX for offline and online customer journeys are different. For example, in the offline realm, CX takes the form of in-store assistance, store planogram, product display, payment experiences at the cashier, etc. On the digital front, this takes the form of a fast-loading website, 3D product visuals or videos, social proof, clear shipping policies, acceptance of multiple payment modes, etc.
The CX across all the touchpoints must be carefully planned for and executed to nudge the customer from the top of the sales funnel towards conversion/purchase.
5. Inspect Moments of Truth
Like mentioned before, no customer journey is perfect for every customer. As customer perceptions differ, the customer journey map will also vary in its effectiveness. Hence, the need to inspect the moment of truth. Moment of truths refers to the outcomes of the map and it answers whether the customer takes the action as intended at a given touchpoint. It also tries to understand whether there is a positive impact on sales as a result of creating a customer-centric journey map.
For example, a slow-loading online store is a hindrance to a positive customer experience. It could impact customer loyalty negatively even if the store managed to deliver an exceptionally positive customer experience during the delivery process. In this stage, the online interaction through the website can be improved to ensure that customer loyalty is gradually improved with upcoming transactions.
6. Take cues from Voice of Customer
Voice of the customer, as the name suggests, is a term that is used to describe the broad customer expectations, feedback, preferences, and even aversions towards a brand. Think of it as singular feedback from customers about the business and its offerings. VoC also takes into account data from several sources including social media listening, surveys, NPS surveys, blogs and forums, customer reviews on third-party websites, etc.
What does VoC have to do with customer journey mapping? A lot of assumptions and hypothesis go into creating a customer journey map. No matter how much the product development and marketing team strives to walk in the customer’s shoes, they can go only so far in understanding the customer. Wrong assumptions and hypotheses must be discarded early on so that the journey map can be refined near to perfection.
VoC can help with that. It can give a quick overview of what is working and what is not working with the business. It can also give pointers as to what needs to change in the customer journey so that customers can accomplish the tasks that they intend to do with maximum efficiency.
7. Implement, measure, improve
There is no such thing as a perfect customer journey map. With time, as customer preferences and market forces change, it would become necessary to redraw the customer journey map. Phrased differently, it would become necessary to implement the map, measure its performance, and continuously improve for maximizing performance.
Thanks to diverse data collecting and scraping methods, it is not possible to have a humongous amount of data relating to user behavior across all stages and touchpoints. It can place a finger on the actions that customers take as intended and also help identify the areas of improvement. Data analytics can help the business continuously improve its customer journey map thus leading to better customer experience and subsequent improvement in sales.
Creating a customer journey: The last lap
A customer journey map is a single document that depicts how the ideal customer would move through the sales funnel before concluding a purchase. Product developers and marketing teams need this handy document to focus their efforts on activities that will drive more business impact. Without a customer journey, their efforts could be diluted with low-priority tasks. In the process, it will also affect customer experience.
To create an effective customer journey map, it is necessary to have certain essential ingredients. The top seven ingredients are discussed above. They will help you create an enriched and detailed customer journey map that will help all stakeholders achieve their individual functional goals as well as create a long-term impact on the business.