Mapping the Customer Journey and why it is so important.
As an outsourcer working with numerous Global Clients it is important for us to fully understand our Client’s businesses and their customers’ journeys from “Cradle to Grave. By doing this we are able to provide the high levels of service that we are expected to do.
One of the best ways to understand the customer’s journey is through mapping. This basically involves creating a diagram that illustrates the touchpoints customers go through when engaging with a company.
These touchpoints will start with marketing and how the customer first understood about the company’s products or services and will end when the customer decides not to do business with the company any more. Now these touchpoints will be varied and include – product purchase, online experience, retail experience, service etc. The more touchpoints a company has, the more important the necessity of understanding the whole journey becomes.
As mentioned earlier, customer journey maps are “cradle to grave,” depicting the entire lifecycle of engagement. They show the initial engagement with the prospective customer, conversion into a paying customer by buying the product or service, using it, sharing the experience with friends and family, and then finishing the journey by either upgrading or taking their business elsewhere.
Knowing the customer journey inside out is imperative as it allows companies to design their operational activities around the needs of the customers and moreover helps them to make the customer experience as pleasurable for their customers as possible.
However, it must be remembered that the journey map is a “living document” and that once created will need to be reviewed, and revised as feedback from customers with regard to their positive and negative experiences is received.
So in summary:
The customer journey map is made up of the experiences that get created with customers. A properly executed and measured journey map will highlight the barriers and the enablers in the journey. Inevitably, this will allow companies to address the area of their businesses that need improvement.
Journey maps are at their best when they are used to map all customer interactions across the organisation, this will include “handoffs” between departments or functional areas. However it must be remembered that the person who was initial point of contact with the customer must retain ownership of the customer and ensure that the customer’s journey is fulfilled to their satisfaction. So everyone involved with any customer interaction must be fully aware of the entirety of the journey map.
Once the initial journey map has been created, it needs to be analysed in the following way by asking questions such as:
- What is the customer doing at each stage?
- What are we doing at each stage as a company?
- What common actions do they take to move themselves to the next stage?
- What actions are we taking to move them onto the next stage?
- What is motivating the customers to keep going to the next stage?
- What are we doing to prevent/inhibit them moving to the next stage?
- What emotions are they feeling?
- Have we created negative or positive emotions?
- What do they value?
- What are the barriers standing in the way of customers to move on to the next stage?
- What do we need to do to remove those barriers?
By understanding the customer journey we can start understanding the complete customer experience and make it perfect. So we must always remember, each customer takes a different journey, so our aim should be to create a set of potential experiences, irrespective of the path they take. Not only should the traditional touch points, such as voice and email, be included in the journey map but new ones created by Social media such as live chat, customer forums, instant messaging need to be integrated into customer journeys.
Finally, customers now demand efficiency and accessibility at high level of speed, and the flexibility to interact across all channels and if companies cannot provide these in the customer journey they will unfortunately fall by the wayside as their customers will take their business to competitors.