The approaches towards customers change over time as does the market itself. Successful entrepreneurs continuously seek and implement new management opportunities in order to attract, maintain and broaden their circle of customers.

Traditional marketing approaches are not completely suitable any longer because customers have higher expectations due to the differentiation of the market. What this means is that marketing based on managing relationships with customers must evolve into experience and engagement management.

One of the approaches which have been employed by marketers and entrepreneurs in an effort to achieve customer satisfaction is the Customer Journey Mapping. An increasing number of companies has been giving Customer Journey a chance in the past few years, and the general attitude towards it is rather positive. For the time being it is used mostly for providing clarity on customers’ attitudes, mapping out the current state of the company and identification of improvement possibilities.

Everything You Need to Know about Customer Journey Mapping

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In this article, we will present everything you need to know about Customer Journey through sections 1) Introduction to Customer Journey, 2) Elements of Customer Journey Mapping, 3) Touch points / Channels in Customer Journey Mapping, and 4) Customer Journey Mapping Process.

INTRODUCTION TO CUSTOMER JOURNEY

The concept of Customer Journey was created in the late 1990s as an outside-in technique in business management. The outside-in approach focuses on improvement of customers’ experience in order to resolve problems and ensure continuous positive relations with them.

It targets optimal customer engagement through proper management and credit attribution of touch points and channels through which the customer interacts with an organization or a brand. The necessity of such an approach rises from the realization that all interaction points and mediums have value in the process and should be stimulated appropriately. Moreover, it tries to create a more holistic view of customer behavioral patterns – understand emotions, desires, and needs as well as influences of the company’s endeavors on them.

One of the crucial components of Customer Journey is the collaborative approach of different departments which constitute a company. Customer Journey advocates believe that only by ‘breaking down the silos’ the company can acquire the above-mentioned insights and reach its objectives – loyal customers who advocate and bring in new ones.

The most important tool of Customer Journey is the Customer Journey Map. It is a structuralized scheme of the elements of customer experience process, touch points of interaction with the organization, channels through which it is obtained as well as a ‘behind the scenes’ overview. In other words, it includes what you want to provide to the customer and what the customer would like to receive from you in different stages and the gaps where these two lanes are not compatible. In the following sections, we will focus on description and explanation of all of these.

ELEMENTS OF CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING

Key elements of Customer Journey Mapping are phases of a customer’s experience lifecycle – that is, phases through which a consumer progresses in reference to a certain company. In this section, we will discuss most frequent elements used in Customer Journey Mapping.

Awareness

Consumer awareness is the amount of recognition which a potential customer has a particular brand as well as the extent of specific product association to a brand. It is extremely beneficial for companies to be differentiated from the competition (if the awareness is not negatively-driven) because consumers tend to turn to something familiar, especially if there are too many similar options. Moreover, such brands tend to be advocated in family and friends circles and lead to continuous advertisement and establishment of a strong hold in the market.

Customer Journey Mapping has the assignment of presenting the amount of awareness your segmented customers have for your brand, the rate of success your campaigns have the awareness percentage and the gaps between what is required for and what is being done in matters of elevating customer awareness.

Discovery

Once your targeted customers become aware of your products and services and gain interest in them, they undertake a process of information acquisition. Customers propose inquiries on the product and interact with branches of your company whether through a query made to a call operator or face-to-face communication with one of your sales representatives at the Point of Sale (PoS) in your store. Moreover, the process of Pricing will be put in motion by your customers. This means that they will evaluate the cost of the product or service they are interested in with reference to how much they are willing to spend for it.

Customer Journey Mapping should provide insights on whether the interaction is informative, useful and engaging for your customers and if not it should point out issues you should take care of. Also, it should detect balance or lack of it in the pricing process.

Purchase

When your customers opt for the purchase of a good or service you are offering, they experience an emotional response to it. The response should contain a feeling of satisfaction, and this is achieved mainly by simple and fast transaction process as well as a feeling of paying a reasonable price.

Customer Journey Map must include quantitative and qualitative statistics on the experience your customers have in the process of purchase. If the statistics show lack of positive emotions in the majority of your segmented customers, you should revise technological strategies towards payment opportunities, sales representatives’ competencies, as well as your pricing determinants.

Post Sales Support / Use of Product or Service

Post sales support represents a wide area of consumer management after purchase of a sort has been made which is focused in ensuring proper functioning of and help with the use of a product or a service. It can be technology oriented and involve the assistance with technology merchandise, consumer-oriented when it helps customers in the management of the product and automatic which is available for consultation at all times and is mostly online based. Moreover, post sales support can be embodied in the form of permanent or provisory warranties for the purchased good or service.

Your Customer Journey framework might point out that customers are not satisfied with the quality of (some or all) your existing post sales support tools or find that your company does not provide post sales support tools which they need. Moreover, it should determine whether the usage of a product or a service meets your customer’s expectations.

Complaint

One of the crucial elements in customer management is the way complaints are addressed. When a customer presents, a complaint he/she must feel like the company is engaged with the problem and is going to take care of it in a timely manner. If the customer receives no understanding or repeatedly help, he/she will probably acquire a permanent negative opinion of the company and advocate against it.

Use the Customer Journey Map to define the amount of consumer satisfaction in reference to how your company deals with their complaints.

Bonding With Product

In order to ensure loyalty of your customers, you should let them feel appreciated and thought of repeatedly. Moreover, you should offer them new and useful ways of investment with your company – this is frequently done through renewal and upgrading of your products and services according to needs and preferences of your customers.

Your Customer Journey Map will be able to provide insightful information for new projects according to specified desires of your customers.

Advocacy

Positive advocacy shows that you have done all of the previous elements in synchronization with your customer’s expectations and needs. Negative advocacy shows your company is doing something wrong in regard to its customers.

By setting a Customer Journey framework, you will be able to detect problems or gaps in your customer management efforts and consequently make way for improvements.

TOUCH POINTS IN CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING

As we have mentioned in the introduction, touch points have an immense value in the Customer Journey process. They represent any and every interaction a customer has with the company. In the recent decade, the touch points and channels broadened to the online market in addition to traditional face-to-face or telecommunication interaction.

Touch points in Customer Journey Mapping are regarded as a team of players who all make the conversion happen. It is like a soccer game: although one team member scores the goal, every team member who navigated the ball in an attack made the goal possible. It is essential to attribute credit properly to each of the touch points and ensure their optimal influence in the Customer Journey. Moreover, collaboration between different touch points is crucial for achieving specific contextual approaches while remaining consistent for the customer.

Below are some of the major key touch points of customer experience with an organization with the brief and general key notions on how each of them should be handled.

Website

  • Easy access (for example, implementation of Search Engine Optimization techniques)
  • Simple to use (especially the payment procedure)
  • Clear and informative
  • Visually appealing

Phone

  • Adaptation of channels for mobile usage
  • Applications

Face-to-face

  • Positive and pro-active approach
  • Usefulness

Word-of-mouth

  • Advertising
  • Brand awareness
  • Satisfied loyal customers

E-mail

  • Constructive, personalized information or offers

Post

  • Topics which customers will find interesting and useful

Here is an example of touch points for a travel agency. Investigation on the touch points of purchasing a service – booking a trip, showed that your customers tend to look up the destination of their interest on their mobile phones though a simple inquiry on a search engine (typing ‘travel to Paris’). It would be advisable to invest in high ranking your website through the Search Engine Optimization techniques. The next step, the customer makes is reading through the information and services you offer on your webpage – it is important to adapt the utility of the page in reference to the type of medium your customers might want to employ – mobile applications, tablet or desktop. Once the information and decision for purchase have been made, you must provide a simple and useful payment system. Studies show that complex systems discourage customers and can result in cancellation of purchase or at least no desire to continue conversion relation in the future.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAPPING PROCESS

After learning about the elements and the touch point of customer journey, the next step is to define the process of how you can develop the customer journey map of your customers. Below is an illustrative example of such map as well as the steps for you to follow to create it for your customers.

Customer Journey Map - example

Step #1: Map

Planning

  • Start With Words: After you have decided to create a Customer Journey Map, you should form a collaborative team of people whose abilities will be most beneficial for the task. Your team should be built with respect to all of the segments you wish to cover with your map in order to create a correct and insightful review of the customer journey. Agree upon a precise objective of your journey map: do you want to investigate a specific process or build your organization’s ecosystem map (an all-inclusive map of all the processes of customer management). Moreover, segment the targeted customer/s whose journey you wish to analyze. Define roles and responsibilities of your team members.
  • Create a Story Board: Once you have determined the scope and scale of your Customer Journey Map, create a story board which will include all of the elements of segmented customer/s journey. Include all of the experience the customer/s had or might have with your company from initial contact (awareness) to an end of a sort (loyalty, advocacy or closure of relations).
  • Define Touch Points and Channels: Determine all of the touch points where customers interact with your organization (social networks, ads, applications, search engines, website) and their channels (various mediums for virtual interaction, call centers, stores, etc.).
  • Explore Your Customer’s Drivers: Define what are customer’s expectations and requirements of each of the touch points and channels. Interview your segmented personas and give them opportunities of feedback. All of the information is essential for having a correct and usable customer journey map.

Data Gathering

Here you should go as detailed as necessary in reference to your objective. Gather quantitative and qualitative statistics on sales, complaints and support requirements as well as analysis on satisfaction with the products and services.

Map Creation

Through primary stages of map creation, you should implement an interactive approach to map creation – your team might use post-its and markers to create a map which you will later install in a Customer Journey software. Customer Journey Map will include all of the gathered data in relation with key elements, touch points and channels and will provide a structuralized result of your examination.

Step #2: Analyze

  • Use collaborative insights from team members of different departments in your organization;
  • Prioritize and rank information in the map;
  • Recognize gaps, issues and opportunities for improvement;
  • Agree on some adjustments in cross-channel and intra-channel management in order to maximize utility of elements of customer experience;
  • Revise touch points and optimize their efficiency in relation to the preferences and needs of your targeted customers.

Step #3: Present

  • Organize all of your findings and adjustments in a ‘roadmap’ for the company;
  • Present to employees, managers and owners in order to achieve full comprehension of the tasks which must be made in order to improve the customer experience (as all of them have influence on the efficiency of implementation of results and ideas);
  • Monitor and manage the realization of projects;
  • Do not hang the Customer Journey Map on the wall as a passive and static result. It is a tool and must be actively adjusted and updated in order to provide continuous understanding of the Customer Journey.

The market is bursting with entrepreneurs and companies in all niches. It is becoming more difficult to maintain a solid presence, maintain customers and attract new ones. The traditional inside-out approach to business management does not seem to cut it anymore. With so many options from which the customers can choose a profit-only orientation has a good chance of ending up being acquisition by a larger enterprise or bankrupt. What proves to be the only real solution is making the customers perpetually happy. For so long companies focused only on the relationship with the customers up to the point of purchase. Basically, consumers were regarded as cash machines which can be easily replaced when broken (discontent). The Consumer Journey is a process established as a helpful instrument for resolving burning issues of the modern market – keeping and broadening circle of customers. It is an effort to understand the total process which leads to conversion, ways in which it can be improved as well as issues which need to be addressed and gaps which should be filled. For further investigation on goals and features of Customer Journey Mapping take a look at the comprehensive webinar by experts on Customer Experience Management Claire Sporton and John Dalton and watch interesting short productions on Moments of Truth and Outside-In Perspective by Future Smith company.

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