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7 Things to Consider When Creating Customer Journey Maps

Many businesses and industries are built and created to serve a market niche and those that survive do so because there are enough customers who share an organization’s vision or are served by its product. With customers at the core of what so many businesses do, it would seem that no organizational change would happen without first thinking of its impacts on the customer. Strangely, as organizations grow and become more complex, the customer is often left by the way side. If this seems counter intuitive, it’s because it is. Businesses that are still developing and co-evolving with their customers often are very tuned into their customer’s needs/desires/expectations, while larger organizations have more financial latitude to focus on internal structures and efficiencies, sometimes at the expense of the customer.

Perhaps customers have the 2008 recession to thank for the rekindled interest in the consideration of their experiences and interactions with businesses. As the landscape continues to rapidly shift in how service is delivered, received, monitored and communicated, organizations cannot afford to make changes without thinking of its customer base, no matter what the size of the company. With social media dominating how, when and with whom we communicate, there is no “hiding” if a customer has a negative experience with a company or product.  While it is definitely a positive that the customer experience is being prioritized, there is still a lot of ambiguity about how best to deliver the type of experience the customer wants. As customers become increasingly savvy and organized in demanding a certain level of service, the traditional relationship between a company and customer is changing.  More businesses are embracing customer experience management as a way to differentiate from competitors and give reason for a customer to remain loyal.

One tool commonly used in managing customer experiences is the customer journey map. This can be one of the single most important tools in your organization and is should be employed across department and service delivery channels. We’ll explore seven important points to consider when developing your own customer journey map.

What is a Customer Journey Map anyways?

Simply put, a customer journey map gives your company the opportunity to walk in your customers’ shoes and see your company from their perspective. This is an important distinction because, all too often, companies think of their customers from an inward perspective, so understanding how your customer interacts with your organization at each touch point will provide valuable insight into creating the best experience for the customer. A journey map isn’t the end-all to customer service, but is an important component to be considered in context with your overall customer service strategy. An effective map requires a significant number of customer insight driven inputs and is an evolving tool. As your customer base and systems change over time, the journey map should be updated to remain relevant.

Seven Important Points to Consider when Creating a Customer Journey Map

1. It’s About the Customer- Creating a journey map is all about the customer and his/her perspective . This isn’t an internally created document, but rather an opportunity to step back and learn how the customer interacts with your organization, whether or not you’re in control. With the amount of information available via social media, many customers will come to your organization with a pre-conceived idea of what to expect. It is not unusual to find that customers have an idea of what they anticipate an experience with your company to be like, before ever setting foot into your store or logging onto your website.

2. Data is Your Friend- To better understand your customer base, a more thorough picture of your customer demographics can be found with surveys, studies, reviews, interviews and even ethnographies.

3. There is No “One” Customer- If you serve a broad swath of customer types, make sure your map reflects the diversity of your customer base. All too often companies rely on data that is very Caucasian and male centered, so pay attention to the type of analysis you’re relying on and ensure it’s reflective of the cultural and ethnic populations that you serve.

4. Understand the Many Touchpoints- As mentioned in point number one, in this day and age, first-time customers with your business may already have a full picture of what they expect their dealings with you to be like based on social media. This may highlight the importance of creating a strong social media team that can help set the tone of how your business is talked about across social-media platforms, as well as being agile in responding when negative on-line reviews appear. Only when you understand the many touchpoints that customers have with your business can you better control the message.

5. Weighing the Importance of Various Touchpoints- When analyzing the various touchpoints in which your customers interact with your organization, you’ll most likely find that there are some touchpoints that are more important than others in coloring your customer’s experience. This is an opportunity to see how a touchpoint is perceived from an insider and outsider perspective. An example would be in a call center’s focus on reducing the length of time per customer call. While this may seem like the right idea from an insider’s (company) perspective, it can be in conflict with how the customer perceives this new “efficiency.” 

6. Consider Non-Customers- Mapping the customer journey should begin with those customers who are not yet familiar with or loyal to your brand/product. One of the main objectives of being in business is to grow and growth often happens with more customers on-boarding. In order to know how to expand, it’s necessary to understand the journey for potential customers. The sooner you get to know these people, the sooner you can develop strategies to attract their business.

7. Measuring Your Promise- Does your customer experience your brand and mission the way you intend it to be experienced?  If your promise is to be quick, customized, or unique in any other way, the journey map will provide important insight as to whether or not your customer is experiencing your brand in the way you intended.

These seven points will ensure you create a map that can serve as the foundation for your customer experience efforts. By focusing on customers and asking the fundamental question of what it’s like to be your company’s customer, you can develop strategies to help your organization stand out in an increasingly competitive and complex business landscape.