Too often, organisations view the customer journey map as a static product of the marketing department. Something that’s created, mailed to all stakeholders, and then which serves as an ongoing and unchanging North Star; a gospel truth around which all customer-related assumptions can be built.
But journey mapping truly is about the journey – the customer experience – and not the destination.
Organisation-centric thinking motivates the desire for a neatly finished product – a closed case that can be acted on without further investigation. And because of this, journey mapping – once done, is often ticked off the to-do list, and then forgotten about for half a decade.
But buyer journeys are not static. The trails customers blazed yesterday may not be the same paths they feel like walking tomorrow. And if your brand can’t provide the journey and experience that they want, it won’t be long before your competitors do.
Why create and use customer journey maps?
If you’re reading this article, the chances are you already know that customer journey mapping is important. Even if you’re not 100% sure why.
And, even if you are, it’s worth at least briefly touching on why you should do customer journey mapping.
Ultimately, customer journey maps serve to inform your organisational understanding of the customer experience at each point of interaction between your brand and your market. A well-thought-out customer journey map should give you a good idea of how your customers came to interact with your brand in the first place, what difficulties they may have had with that interaction, and how you can improve on it to increase brand loyalty and customer acquisition and retention.
According to a Microsoft report, 96% of consumers say customer service is an important factor in their loyalty to a brand.
So, using a poorly thought-out or outdated customer journey map can lead to an organisation actively frustrating its customers into looking for alternative brands.
7 Steps to creating customer journey maps
There are generally considered to be 7 core steps involved in creating and using comprehensive customer or buyer journey maps.
1. Set your goals and targets
Before getting started with the development of your customer journey maps, it’s important to understand why you are creating them. Do you simply want insights as to what the reality of your brand experience is, from the customer’s perspective? Or are you actively seeking to improve the customer journey and want to create a benchmark against which to measure future customer journeys?
Whatever the case, it can help to discuss what you want to get out of your journey mapping with a consultancy like Interact RDT.
2. Craft your buyer personas
Without personas to populate them, there’s not much point in developing a customer journeys. So, building buyer personas is an important and integral part of journey mapping. Following our guide will give you a good idea of how to get started. In short though, data is your best friend when it comes to crafting the personas whose journey you’re mapping. Gather relevant information from every conceivable touchpoint – both quantitative and qualitative – and make sure that your personas are built from facts, and not from the imaginations in your marketing department.
3. Identify customer needs and pain-points
Now that you’ve got your personas and their related data, it’s time to start working through the information at hand to paint a picture of the customer experience at each step of their interaction with your brand – whether they’ve just discovered you, or been a customer for years.
Remember to always put the customer perspective first. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand what they might be thinking and feeling at every touchpoint. This can lead to you not only identifying customer pain, but also opportunities for pre-emptive improvement to the customer experience.
4. Maximise and optimise your touch-points
Once you have a better understanding of your customer’s needs and pain-points, it’s time to reimagine your touchpoints. This is very much a brainstorming phase, taking the insights gained and applying them in an actionable way to your brand’s platforms and channels. A multidivisional perspective is often best for this, so include stakeholders from across your organisation.
It’s worth bearing in mind that, while lockdowns and the general digitization of the world have brought online interactions to the fore of many organisations’ minds, that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore your brand’s physical presence.
5. Map out the journey
If you have existing customer journey maps, this is the point at which you superimpose your reimagined changes onto them – giving yourself “before and after” snapshots and clearly identifying areas of change.
If this is the first time you are building customer journey maps, the process will be far more in-depth, requiring that you plot out the full journeys of each of your buyer personas, through their discovery of, navigation through, and eventual engagement with your brand.
What instigated their search for your products and services? How did they first find your brand? What made you stand out from your competitors? What channels or platforms do they choose to interact with your brand on?
These and more questions must be taken into account when developing the customer journey map.
6. Prioritise and execute changes
Now that you have your reimaged customer journey fully mapped out, it is time to action what you’ve written down.
Again, you should look through your customers’ eyes when prioritising changes to their journeys. Some changes will be dependent on others, and some will be more disruptive to the customer experience – necessitating consideration when rolling them out.
As we’ve mentioned before, making changes in an iterative manner can keep your organisation from being overwhelmed by massive overhauls, and can serve to ease your market into the changes you’re making to serve it. Iterative changes also allow for a more agile and future-proof approach to customer service.
7. Gather customer feedback and start again
And this step is the one that reminds us that it’s all about the journey – there is no final destination in journey mapping. And that’s because customer satisfaction is an ever-moving target.
According to the aforementioned Microsoft report, 77% of customers have a more favourable view of brands that ask for and accept customer feedback. So, don’t be shy –develop channels for seeking customer feedback, nurture that relationship between your brand and its market, and then remember what that feedback was when you go back to the beginning, and start journey mapping again!
Using journey maps in your business
It’s one thing to read an article about customer journey mapping online, but it’s something else entirely to actually apply your learnings in the hubbub of the business environment.
If your organisation is trying to reimagine the customer experience it offers – inclusive of the brand and user experience along the customer journey – we at Interact RDT would enjoy taking the opportunity to discuss how we can help your brand on its own journey – contact us today, and lets travel the road to success together.