How Understanding the Customer Journey Leads to Better Support

Have you ever left to go on a trip without first looking up directions on how to get to where you want to go? Whether it be Mapquest, Waze, or the atlases of old, you’ve probably always had a cursory glance to figure out where you’re going. It’s supremely difficult to get to a destination without directions, unless you’re willing to take a long meandering path. If you wouldn’t do it with your in-person travels, then why would you do it with your customer support journey? 

Customer journey maps are like Mapquest for improving your customer support and experience. They map out the story of your customer’s journey with your product from the customer’s perspective:

The digital experience journey moves from social media discovery through acquisition to usage and advocacy

You can see all the twists and turns, all the potential pitfalls, and even the end goal. When you’re trying to determine which levers to pull to improve your customer support, your customer journey map is the first place that you should start. You’ll be able to see everything from your customers’ first step through your company’s doorway all the way through to churn or successful customer advocacy. 

Start by creating your own customer journey map

Don’t already have a customer journey map? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Ask your team what integral steps your customers need to take to be successful with your product.
  • Interview customers to understand how they are using your product and what is most important to them.
  • Watch your customers using a product like Fullstory to see how they use your product.
  • Pay attention to your churn notifications and what customers are indicating as make-or-break features.
  • View your product and marketing site analytics to see where people are using your product most and how long they spend on those pages.
  • Send out surveys like Net Promoter Score and Customer Satisfaction and analyze the responses.

Once you’ve aggregated some of your customer touchpoints, start to put them on a timeline. Color them in with how you’d like the user to feel, and which channels they’ll use. With that, you’ve created an elementary version of a customer journey map. Now you’re on your way to customer support excellence!

Understand your customer holistically

Your customer journey map should be the one-stop-shop for everyone in your company to understand your customer’s needs, motivations, struggles, and anxieties. The map is not just for your product team or customer-facing teams. Your marketing team can use it to make better-performing, more meaningful content. Your sales team can use this data for better prospect targeting.

Getting an overall view of how customers progress through your product helps teams figure out the perfect time to act. Many senior executives worldwide describe the B2B purchase process as “hard,” “awful,” “painful,” “frustrating,” or “a minefield.” Often, this experience is a reflection of all of the disjointed moments throughout the process. 

When teams aren’t on the same page, it makes for crumby customer experiences—whether you provide excellent support or not—and it reflects poorly on your support offerings. While traditionally your support team owned the customer experience, that’s no longer the case. Now it’s a bit more multifaceted: no one group is entirely responsible for your customers. Having everyone on the same page is even more integral:

The customer journey is now an integrated network of steps instead of a linear process
Image via: https://www.goboomtown.com/blog/holistic-customer-journey-framework

All of your company needs to work together to make the web of customer experience healthy. Support is not just the emails that you respond to in the inbox; it’s how you help your customers have a fantastic experience with your brand. Everyone needs to look at the same insights so that they can act on the same thing, and your customer journey gives everyone the tools to do just that.

Proactive support

When proactive support is done correctly, it feels like magic. It makes you seem more reliable when you can preemptively support your customers with their troubles. Beyond that, it allows your team to deflect “low-hanging fruit” conversations and saves both your customers and your staff some time.

Use your customer journey map to uncover customer sentiment around critical experiences in your journey. For instance, how long does it take a prospect to hit that key conversion point, and could you get them there faster? Do you notice that individuals struggle once they hit your price comparison stage? Implementing proactive customer support, either in the form of well-placed documentation or chat support, can help improve the onboarding process and make for better customer experience.

Improve your product

Unfortunately, the people who have the best context around customer needs and wants are not always going to be your product team. That is where your customer journey map and customer support comes in! Give everyone the dictionary to speak your customer’s language and understand how they talk about their struggles, emotions, and motivations. A better, more intuitive product makes for less volume in your inbox. That gives your team more resources and time to spend improving your support experience elsewhere. Get your support team involved in adding information to your customer journey map so your product team can see it directly in context.

When your product team can understand exactly what your customers are saying, and where they are in the journey, they’ll be better able to improve the product. Without your map, your product team relies too heavily on their instincts and how they think the product should be. With additional data, they can consider actual customer usage and make a stickier, more customer-focused product.

Refocus executive perspective

One of the most commonly under-resourced teams is your support team. Your executives are the people responsible for determining your company’s future, but they are usually also the people most removed from the customer experience. Your customer journey map gives them a more in-depth perspective of the reality of your customers’ journeys.

The insights on your map can be informative when designing a product vision because your execs will be able to see and easily digest what is most important (or most frustrating) to your customers about your company. They’ll be better equipped to create a plan that attracts customers, keeps them, and is competitive while doing so.

People think support is a cost center. But when your executives see your customers’ needs and the direct impact of them not being met, they will be more inclined to staff your team appropriately. More money, more team members, more influence.

Drive company performance

A 2018 survey uncovered that 90% of customer experience teams that use customer journey mapping saw heightened CX performance, namely increased customer satisfaction. They also saw lower churn, higher NPS, and fewer customer complaints as additional benefits. Optimizing how your users navigate your product and creating efficiency generates loyalty and keeps them coming back and continuing to choose to spend their money with you. Their commitment has a trickle-down effect of boosting many vital metrics.

To drive this change, ask yourself:

  • How do your customers navigate through your site or product?
  • Is your purchase page navigable? Do you have proactive support set up to answer any common questions?
  • What’s your bounce rate on your product and marketing pages?
  • How long do your users spend with you on each visit? How long do they spend on individual pages?

Say, for instance, tons of people read your blog, but few ever end up making it to informational pages about your product. Knowing this information could help your marketing team discern an opportunity to write better blog posts or structure their conclusions more meaningfully. Making a change here could have the ability to impact your NPS, conversion rate, number of leads for your sales team, and even your win rate—especially if the blog posts are “how-tos” or product-related. It may even deflect incoming customer support volume on social, phones, chat, or in the inbox.

Diving a bit deeper into questions around your customer journey map will uncover opportunities to drive your customer support and overall company experience.

Conclusion

Nothing will be a magic bullet for improving customer support, but having a map can at least point you in the right direction. More goes into support than meets the eye. Promote a holistic understanding of your customers throughout your company, and your support team will reap the benefits. Your executive team will be more inclined to give you the resources you need. Your company metrics will feed into your support team’s success. Your product will be more intuitive, freeing your support team up to focus their energy on proactive support and other out-of-the-queue projects.

Your marketing team may traditionally own customer journey maps, but their benefits abound for your support team, too.

Curious about other ways that deep customer insights can improve your experience? Check out our blog on gathering customer insights.

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