This article is part one of a two-part series on customer journey mapping. This first article will highlight the necessity of the practice. Customer journey mapping is a tool to holistically improve your customer experience and your bottom line. The companion article will detail ways to develop a practical and efficient customer journey map.
What is customer journey mapping?
A customer journey map is a visualisation of the entire customer experience over the course of a client’s relationship with your business. Customer journey mapping begins from the moment a potential customer becomes aware of your brand’s existence all the way to the point of purchase, and well beyond.
Mapping your customers’ journey involves studying the progress of their interaction with your product and brand the way that anthropologists study their subjects: through analysis of real, traceable behaviors. You create customer personas for segments of your client base and analyse their behavior in order to anticipate their needs. You’ll be able to predict pitfalls, anticipate pain points, and efficiently target customers with products, content, and marketing. This is all valuable insight in the struggle for customer retention.
The marketing funnel has evolved
It’s not breaking news that many businesses’ focus has shifted from ravenous lead generation to a more nurturing model aimed toward customer retention. The reason for this change is that it’s much more expensive and time-consuming to hunt down a new customer than it is to tend to an existing one. Extant customers are also more likely to spend more money with your business, and more often, than newcomers.
The evolution from a hunter/gatherer marketing model to a nurturing one has resulted in the obsolescence of any marketing strategy that ends at a customer’s decision to purchase. Consider the model below.
Fostering a long-term and mutually profitable relationship with customers doesn’t end with their purchase. Rather, the whole customer nurturing process begins right afterwards, and is just as important than acquisition, if not more.
In order to differentiate their brand from competitors and be profitable, businesses need to focus on customer retention. That’s where customer journey mapping comes in, to accompany your customers from one successful stage of their journey to the next.
Customer retention requires personalization
The point of customer journey mapping is to help you get close to your customers, your real customers. The goal is to understand their needs, requirements, and obstacles and hopefully gain some measure of predictive insight on their behavior.
Customer journey mapping aims to give you a better understanding of your customers’ underlying motivations through analysis of their attitude, wants, needs, and pain points. A map will take the form of a story of which your business and the customer are the main protagonists. By relying on precise data, you can identify the key moments in the interaction of customers and your brand. As a result, you can guide them from one stage to the next and stop them from churning.
Let’s look at the advantages of customer journey mapping for your customers, your expansion strategy, and your bottom line.
1. Up retention and encourage advocacy
The first goal of a customer journey map is to better retain customers. In order to retain customers, you need to incentivize their continued patronage. One way to do this is through a commitment to customer engagement. Engaged customers readily interact with your brand, even to the point of becoming its advocates.
Engaged customers are easier to retain
Customer journey mapping helps marketers, product teams, and managers alike better understand their customers. Indeed, comprehending customers’ behavior and challenges makes it easier to engage them. Customer journey mapping can give businesses insight on how their brand is perceived by segments of their client base.
This way, they can think of ways to engage this customer segment. For instance, the map might highlight that your signup process to go from the trial of your product to the paying version is too labor intensive, and therefore, prospects aren’t going through with it. This might be an opportunity to rethink your process, perhaps by changing it to be more intuitive, less complex, maybe even make it into a game.
Customer engagement has a very real and measurable impact on the customer experience and on your bottom line. The way to know how to engage your customers is to know them, and to understand their journey. A carefully crafted customer journey map allows businesses to make data-driven decisions based on their actual customers’ motivations and behaviors.
The customer is the best marketer
Customer advocates are the holy grail of marketing. Customer reviews carry more and more weight in the eyes of prospective clients during their decision-making stage. This is especially true for demographics that tend to be refractory to traditional advertising methods. Therefore, the genuine endorsement of a customer through word-of-mouth or testimonials rings true for people considering whether or not to become customers of a brand.
Customer journey mapping brings you closer to your customers. It does so not only through what those customers say, but also how they behave. Successfully drawing up customer personas, truly understanding their behavior, and accompanying them from one customer journey stage to another streamlines turning customers into brand advocates.
2. Identify and remedy to CX failings
Customer journey mapping is a huge part of improving customer experience. If you cannot root your customer experience in your actual customers’ authentic behaviors, needs, and challenges, then who is it good for?
Zero in on customer pain points
By observing how smoothly (or painfully) customers make their way through your sales funnel, you’ll identify areas needing to be strengthened, improved, or rebuilt. Indeed, stages and transitions which aren’t efficient or optimized for customers should be apparent on your map.
For example, say your customers are struggling to adopt your product. Then you’ll know to rethink your onboarding process so that customers understand how much they can benefit from your product. This will put them on the fast track to advocacy. If your clients aren’t satisfied by your customer support system, it’s time to tighten up your FAQs, knowledge base, and other self-service support resources. This kind of insight gleaned from customer journey mapping represents concrete, actionable ways to improve CX.
Improve your omnichannel service strategy
Customer journey mapping can also highlights dysfunction in your own internal processes. By studying your customers interaction with your service channels, you can find ways to improve your CX structure as readily as its execution.
Are your customers laboring to use your mobile website? Is important customer information not flowing freely between service channels? Your map can help zero in on gaps in your service model between channels, teams, and devices in order to smooth out the customer experience overall.
3. Develop a better roadmap
Prioritizing features, fixes, and expansions for your product can be tricky. Deciding what to add or build next is a challenge, since you’ll often be torn between innovating and perfecting what you already have, between outstripping the competition or delivering what your customers are clamoring for.
Figure out customer needs over wants
No matter which option you choose, you run the risk of making a mistake. Perhaps your customers won’t take to the change, perhaps you’ll lose both time and money. This is where a customer journey map can be hugely useful.
The goal of customer journey mapping is to suss out when and how customers using your product or service run into difficulties, frustration, or a gap in your service model. That way, you’ll know exactly how to improve their experience, encourage their engagement, and earn their loyalty by contributing to the customer’s success.
Customer feedback is undeniably valuable when it comes to improving customer experience. However, it doesn’t suffice on its own. Customers can be trusted to tell you what they want, but their behavior and interaction with your product will tell your what they need. Often, the two things aren’t exactly the same. Customer journey mapping can tell you what the customer needs to succeed; their success through use of your product is what will keep them from churning.
Designing and planning for the customers you want is necessary to your expansion. However, doing the same for your existing customers is crucial to retention. A customer journey map helps your product and tech team stay close to the customer. Taking into account both the voice of the customer and their behavior isn’t just the key to building your product roadmap; it’s key to enabling customer success and, by extension, your own.
Unite your team over CX excellence
The foremost goal of customer journey mapping is to get closer to your customers. However, putting the customer first also has a way of helping your team function better internally.
Putting the customer front and center
Committing to customer journey mapping shifts the focus of your marketing and product strategies from inside-out to inside-in. From “what more can we provide to our customers?” to “what more do our customers want from us?”
Your map will focus on the stages of the customer’s experience rather than on the business goals set for your sales and marketing teams. These CX milestones are real stages through which the customers pass. Your sales, marketing, and support teams can refer to the map at any time. The point is to have a solid, actionable basis to which your team can refer to always keep sight of customers’ progress, struggles, and goals.
Encourage internal cooperation
Customer journey mapping will benefit all stratas of your organization. That’s convenient, since, as they say, customer service is everyone’s job. Putting the customer experience at the center of your objectives and concerns is all well and good. But if your team doesn’t cooperate smoothly, that can get confusing, fast.
Your customer journey map will highlight gaps in the customer experience. It will also point out lapses between devices, service channels, and teams. Use this insight to remove silos between departments of your operation, thus improving your omnichannel service strategy.
Likewise, having a clear idea of the customer journey makes it easier to assign tasks to relevant teams and individuals. Encourage everyone to take ownership of the task appointed to them. This way, no facet of the customer experience will slip through the cracks.Your customer journey map will be useful to everyone in your organisation when it comes to understanding how they can individually strive to improve the customer experience.
Now that the importance and value of customer journey mapping are clear, head over to part two of this series to find out how best to plot out a customer journey map!