Offering your customers great experiences starts with understanding their perspective. To create the experiences that win customer loyalty, your company needs to put itself in the customer’s shoes to see what it’s really like to interact with your brand. Is it easy to make a purchase? Can a customer switch from chat to phone seamlessly when asking for support? On which channels can they expect delivery updates? How do they connect with your brand? These questions, and many more, can be answered by creating a detailed customer journey map.
A customer journey map visualizes the customer experience from the customer’s perspective. It maps out every stage – from the awareness stage to the decision stage – a customer goes through when interacting with a company. From contacting customer service to making purchases to creating an account on your website: there are multiple user journeys. A customer journey map allows your company to understand many aspects of the customer experience and empathize with your prospect. First, it demonstrates exactly which steps are taken throughout the journey and any channels and tools involved at each step. This enables you to better understand how technology and human resources can be optimized for a greater overall customer experience. Customer journey maps often reveal possible pain points along the journey that may cause customers frustration – and impact customer engagement. They can also reveal processes that are working correctly and giving customers satisfaction.
When creating a customer journey map, your company must involve all the departments related to the customer experience. These departments may include customer service, sales, marketing, and customer support, for example. These employees will not only offer valuable insights about their area of expertise but also about the channels on which they work. For example, customer service may be very active on digital channels, while marketing might work primarily via email. They can discuss their experiences with customers on these channels and give feedback about major issues. Even though, mapping is still happening in silos to provide relevant, actionable, and customer-centric insights, the customer experience strategy has to be developed at a global level. Together, these departments can discuss how customer obstacles can be overcome and processes can be improved to offer a greater omnichannel customer experience. Whether your map uses text boxes and spreadsheets or visual aids such as infographics, arrows, or icons, the most important thing to remember is that it should be easy for everyone to clearly view the customer journey from start to finish.
To create an efficient customer journey map, follow these seven essential steps.
First and foremost, your company must decide what it is trying to achieve through customer journey mapping. Understanding your customer behavior is critical to creating a more relevant user persona. Are you trying to better understand who your target customers are? Are you trying to find pain points in your customer service? Customer journey maps can become very detailed and cover a wide scope, so you may easily get off track or feel overwhelmed. You have to prioritize your tasks to identify which are the most impactful on your customer journey. Answering such questions will help you decide where your starting and ending points should be during the mapping process and will keep your team focused on specific goals. Once mapping is done, you can review your initial goals to make sure they were achieved.
Buyer personas are characters which represent your typical customers. They should reflect every aspect of a typical customer—demographics, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle habits including how they research products and ultimately buy them. To create buyer personas, you will need to assemble data. Sending questionnaires to current and prospective customers is an excellent way to understand the people who are actually interested in buying your products and services. You may ask questions such as their reason for purchase, favorite communication channel, and how they learned about your brand in the first place. You may also quantify their responses by asking them to evaluate your customer service, web and mobile app usability, and product quality on a numerical scale. Their feedback is important because it helps you identify and understand the voice of the customer. Based on your research, choose a few target personas—the most common customer profiles—to use for creating customer journey maps. Each persona will follow a specific path along the journey on your map.
Once your buyer personas are created, identify all the touchpoints along the customer journey. Touchpoints are all the places where a customer interacts with your brand before, during, or after purchase. Digital touch-points may include your company website, social media, review websites, blogs, and online advertisements. They may also be non-digital, such as stores and offices, brand catalogues, marketing and invoice mail, and the voice channel. There are many ways in which customers may find and interact with your brand, so you must consider all of them carefully. Once they are identified, map them out in chronological order so you can see the full journey from start to finish. It helps you maximize every customer interaction point.
Once your brand’s touchpoints are identified, take a close look at your data to determine how these touchpoints are being used and what your customers think of them. Qualitative data may be gathered from customer feedback such as surveys, reviews, and testimonials. Customer feedback might reveal, for example, that your customer service agents ask customers to repeat information too often, deliveries are often delayed, shipping rates are too high, or in-store pickup orders are not ready as promised. Quantitative data such as contact center KPIs can reveal agent efficiency when interacting with customers and their effect on the customer experience. CSAT and Net Promoter Score illustrate overall customer satisfaction levels and the likelihood of future loyalty, while CES shows if your journeys are not seamless enough and demand too much effort and time. For example, large call volumes may indicate slow service on digital channels, prompting customers to call your brand often to resolve issues. To better understand the customer journey, take it yourself and note all possible pain points at every step. Remember to do this for each buyer persona. For example, you may find that upon making a purchase on the brand website, order confirmations are not sent to customers. Or perhaps, when you want to switch from social media to phone when talking to a customer service agent, you are asked to wait in a queue and eventually connected to another agent. Taking the customer journey will show you which aspects of the journey are creating customer satisfaction and frustration.
As you move through each touchpoint, pay close attention to likely customer emotions at each step. Focus on your customer expectations and look for critical points along the journey that are likely to influence a customer’s opinion. These points are often called moments of truth, as customers decide how they feel about your company based on the experiences you offer them. At these moments, customers essentially decide whether or not they trust your brand. One critical moment may include when customers are about to make a purchase. If the checkout process does not offer a secure payment process or is confusing in any way, or if the cost of shipping is given last minute instead of well in advance, a customer may abandon his or her purchase. Another example would be when a customer connects with a service agent on chat and is told to wait briefly. If the wait ends up being too long or the agent disconnects, the customer will be deceived. These critical moments should be looked at attentively, so that the customer experience can be optimized.
Unveiling customer pain points can help your company determine if extra resources may be needed. For example, you may find that customers are repeating information too often. If your company is not already using a CRM integrated with your contact center solution, it may be time to do so. Such a tool can provide a comprehensive view of a customer’s profile and previous interactions with your brand and ensure that agents are equipped with all the information they need during conversations. You may also realize that certain channels are understaffed and need more support. You may also learn that some technical processes are not working correctly, such as sending order updates in a belated manner by SMS or email.
After you have completed your map, ask your teams to suggest revisions where needed. Remember that customer journey maps, like customer preferences, are always evolving. This means that your company will have to revisit its maps continuously in order to ensure constant progress. This is why it is important to base your customer journey analysis on customer data and voice-of-customer surveys. It helps you put yourself in their shoes.
As a company, you can also decide which changes should be made based on what you have learned from your map. For example, you may realize that customers need to take fewer steps along their journey. Perhaps they are making too much effort and needed a more seamless way to reach their goals. You may also realize that you need to better inform customers by offering frequently asked questions, providing better product and service descriptions, and contacting customers on their preferred channels.
Ultimately, customer journey maps enable your company to optimize work processes across departments for more seamless customer experiences. Through customer journey mapping, you can put your customers’ needs at the heart of your business and give them the experiences that win their loyalty.
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