“Instagram vs reality.” These comical posts show the difference between what people show on social media, and what’s really happening behind the scenes. Does your company’s perception of your customer experience need a similar reality check?
It’s quite likely that your customers have a different perception of “reality,” when asked about their experience. While 80% of companies think they deliver a great experience, only 8% of customers agree.
Customer journey mapping can help you understand why customers see their experience differently. By mapping each touchpoint over the customers’ lifetime, you can start to close the gap between your vision and reality. Here’s how.
What is customer journey mapping?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of all the different steps a customer takes with your company. Customer journey mapping is the process of putting this document together. It includes researching who the customer is, observing each interaction they have with the company, and documenting the journey along with the goals, emotions, and challenges encountered on the way.
McKinsey suggests that mapping the overall journey places the emphasis on the whole customer experience, rather than the steps along it. “Too many companies focus on individual interaction touchpoints devoted to billing, onboarding, service calls, and the like,” writes McKinsey in The CEO Guide to Customer Experience.
But customers don’t perceive their interactions with a company in discrete steps – instead, their opinion is formed based on the end-to-end journey. That’s why customer journey mapping is so critical to providing a great customer experience.
5 benefits of customer journey mapping
The process of customer journey mapping provides organizations with significant benefits, across the entire organization. In a 2018 report, 85% of organizations using customer journey mapping reported positive results from it. According to MyCustomer, “half of those questioned who use customer journey mapping also reported that they have enjoyed an increase in Net Promoter Score (53%), a drop in customer complaints (48%) and reduced customer churn (40%).” Here are the specific benefits you’ll see when creating a customer journey map:
It focuses your energy on your ideal customer
By taking the time to put your customer’s characteristics and experiences into writing, you’re bringing more attention to the customer. Without specifying exactly who you’re designing your journey for, you’ll be more likely to try and appeal to everyone. A journey map coalesces your companies strategies and resources around the same plan. That keeps everyone rowing the boat in the same direction.
It improves customer onboarding
You don’t know what you don’t know. What might seem completely obvious to you (ie. you need to create a new project before selecting a template), might be a huge obstacle to a new customer. By creating a customer journey map, you can start to find the gaps in your onboarding process and fill them with better in-product instructions or user education. Poor onboarding is considered one of the biggest causes of cancellations, responsible for an average of 23% of churn cases. Level up your customer onboarding by creating a customer journey map and you’ll see more customers stick around. If not, check our examples of customer cancellation email.
It helps reduce churn
Not only does a customer journey map improve onboarding, it improves retention across every part of the customer lifecycle. It’s only possible to see all the obstacles when you document every step of the journey. Plus, you can indicate the reasons customers say they are cancelling on your journey map. Including these reasons on a visual representation of the journey can help prioritize where you make improvements.
It helps with proactive customer service
If you want to offer proactive support, you’ll need to be one step ahead of your customer. The only way to do this is to create a customer journey map which shows how your customers interact with your product. If you find that customers tend to encounter the same common obstacles, you can develop a proactive customer service strategy using educational materials, well-timed emails, and in-app notifications.
It creates a customer-centric organization
Too often organizations struggle to stay focused on the customer as they grow. Many executives have very little interaction with customers on a daily basis. Creating a customer journey map can help illustrate what customers feel and what they need.
5 steps to mapping your customer’s journey
Whether you’re creating your first customer journey map, or your tenth, the steps are all the same. Here’s how:
1. Understand why you’re building this map
It’s impossible to document all the different users and their unique journeys with your product. Instead of trying to make a map that represents every user’s experience, be really specific with the purpose of your map. Are you making a map to improve your onboarding strategy? Or are you mapping the customer support experience to improve customer satisfaction?
Having a defined goal will make your map more helpful once it’s created. You can always create another journey map to support another goal.
2. Understand your users
Who is the customer that you’re thinking of when you’re designing your map? You likely have one person in your mind that represents your ideal customer. Take the time to write a description of who this person is, so you can confirm that everyone involved has the same character in mind. If you’re building a map for a middle-aged person that works in accounting, they’ll likely have a very different experience than a teenager creating a school project.
If you’ve created a buyer’s persona in the past, this is the same process. You might even have a buyer’s person that you can use to build your map around.
3. List all touchpoints
A touchpoint is any interaction a customer has with your company, through any channel. Every touchpoint has an impact on the user, whether it’s reading an advertisement, signing into your product, talking to customer service, or paying a bill. Listing all of these touchpoints will show you how your customers move through their lifecycle with your business.
Collect touchpoints from a variety of stakeholders. The marketing team will have a different list from the support team or the engineering team. But all the touchpoints are important to collect. You can also try walking a mile in your customers’ shoes to find any hidden touchpoints.
4. Outline the customer journey
Using the list of touchpoints you’ve gathered in step three, put together an overview of the customer journey. Then for each action you’ve identified, add more context to what the customer is feeling, or what their goal is:
Feelings: What is the motivation at this step? Are customers feeling a pain point that they’re trying to fix? Are they curious? Frustrated by a bug? Identify what the customer is feeling at each action.
Goal: Identify the end goals from both the customer and the company’s perspective. What is each stakeholder trying to accomplish with this action? What should the customer get out of this step? What barriers are in their way?
Channels: Where is this step occurring? Is it in person, over the phone, through an app? Identify the different ways customers can complete this action.
5. Review your customer journey
Create a final draft of your customer journey map to review and distribute. As you worked through creating the map, you may have noticed parts of the journey that require improvement or action from other departments. That’s okay! Document your customer journey as it is now, not as you want it to be.
As you make changes to your customer journey, keep your map updated. It becomes a living document that shows the latest “state of affairs” when it comes to the customer experience. Review the document quarterly or before big releases to make sure you haven’t let anything slip through the cracks.
Mapping your customers’ journey will help you understand what it’s like to be your customer. Where do they run into frustration? Where can you improve their experience? With a customer journey map, you’ll be ready to start making improvements and influencing their overall impression of your company.
Want more? Learn how to use the customer journey to provide better customer support.
Or, leave us a question about building customer journey maps in the comments below.