If your company has a customer journey map in place, then you already know how important it is to understand how consumers engage with your business.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the journey map is delivering on expectations. There may be significant room for improvement and, thus, untapped potential for gaining a better understanding of how your customers behave and how to turn that information into greater profits in this customer-centric age.
So how can your business get the most from the customer journey mapping process? In this article, we explore 9 ways to create a map that maximizes customer experience, satisfaction and engagement.
1. Overlay Data
In this era of big data, most companies are sitting on a treasure trove of information that can be used to improve customer experience. Data from all areas of the business can prove important so the key is to harvest data from all touchpoints that play a role in the customer journey.
An effective way to do this is to overlay data from different parts of the business to get a comprehensive bird's eye view of how a customer interacts with your company from your website to social media networks to live chat.
This overlay tactic ensures that your business is mining a range of data that can feed into your customer journey map:
- Analytical: This is the type of data most companies already collect from website interactions, social media platforms and paid media channels. It includes information about a customer's location, age, and purchasing habits. This data is vital for discovering broad trends and user behavior.
- Anecdotal: This refers to data that comes from individual customer’s experiences and stories. While this type of information cannot be charted as easily as analytical information, certain steps can be taken to frame it in objective terms and gain insight from it. Social media monitoring is a good method for collecting anecdotal information while customer service operative inputting feedback into a CRM can prove invaluable to informing the mapping process.
2. Refine Personas
A key element of effective customer engagement is personas. Armed with refined and fluid personas, marketing and sales teams can influence consumers online and in turn improve customer experience. On the flip side, if the personas used to drive engagement are inaccurate, marketers and sellers will struggle to gain traction online and ultimately fail to engage. In short, accurate buyer personas are the cornerstone of an effective customer journey map.
You should already have the basics covered when it comes to information about your personas’ age, household income, marital status, location, gender, etc. However, there is other important data you need such as:
- How do they like to interact with vendors?
- How do they learn about products/services like yours?
- What are other items they have purchased in your niche?
- What do they engage with in relation to your competitors?
- Where are they most active when looking for solutions to problems?
- What content formats do they engage with?
The answers to these questions (and many more) will provide insight into how your company can become a better source of information for customers. In addition, possible objections can provide insight into a particular persona such as concerns about the product/service or the ease of integration into their current system. Include these as part of the persona to map pain points and help position your product/service as essential for helping them in their life or role.
3. Identify all Touchpoints
Anytime potential or existing customers come into contact with your business at particular touchpoints, the relevant information should be documented and centralized for easy access.
Often the issue is that many companies focus on the buying decision, leaving them blind to data that could transform the customer experience. Experiences pre-sale and post-sale are also very important as a happy customer equals a loyal one and can provide insight into areas that require improvement at both ends of the sales cycle.
While every company is different, the most common touchpoints customers have before, during, and after their purchases include:
- Social Media Interactions
- Word of Mouth
- Current Promotions
- Staff/Sales Team Interaction
- Point of Sale
- Marketing Emails
- Service/Support Team
- Online Help Desk/Live
If any of these touchpoints exist on a customer journey map, your business needs to be able to pull data from it.
4. Know the Gaps
‘Gaps’ describe any point within a journey when a customer may decide to take their business elsewhere as friction blocks a smooth path forward. In order to avoid customers falling through the cracks or going elsewhere for their business, a customer map needs to take all possible journeys into account.
Gaps can exist in three stages of the journey which include:
- Devices – When a user switches from one device to another e.g. mobile to tablet
- Departments – When one department hands the customer off to another without providing the correct data or information
- Channels – When the user’s journey takes them from one channel to another (e.g. from the social media page to the website)
It may not be that the transitions are bad, but if they are not managed properly, they can turn into gaps, which is how you lose potential customers. Identifying these gaps and including them in your customer journey will help to ensure customers proceed through all stages of the sales process and onboarding with relative ease.
5. Create Multiple Customer Journeys
Treating every customer the same can end up meaning that none of them are happy.
While customer reviews and feedback may reveal a 90% satisfaction rate, the important metric to measure is satisfaction across the entire journey from sale to onboarding to post-sale. This is why organizations need to put themselves in their customer's shoes and create scenarios that map out multiple journeys. As customers journeys get more complex, companies need to ensure they are anticipating the routes they may take and optimize CX along the multiple touchpoints rather than relying on one assumed journey.
To achieve this you need to build an understanding of what is working and what's not. For example are there high abandonment rates at the buying stage? Putting a change of mind aside, is the speed of the interaction a problem or the number of forms required to fill out? Charge your marketing teams with taking those interactions as a customer and see what the actual experience is and then prioritize the most important gaps and opportunities.
The value of this kind of specificity is the driving force behind the rise of personalization. In short, your e-commerce website should adapt based on information you’ve gathered on an individual visitor (e.g. pages visited, purchases made, etc.).
6. Align with Sales
As marketing and sales automation accelerates, it's crucial that teams work together to drive sales and revenue. New technologies offer unique ways to communicate with customers and a mutual understanding of how they work and their value in the customer experience is a must for today's marketers and sellers.
After all, misalignment has a significant impact on revenue with lost sales and wasted marketing outlay costing organizations $1 trillion a year. In addition, a lack of alignment leads to the waste of 60-70% of B2B content and a failure to convert 79% of marketing leads into sales.
A prime example of this is how sales can help your marketing team better understand your customers. Ultimately salespeople are at the frontline and have to handle those last-minute objections. Sellers have insight into what different customers need to hear before they will feel comfortable buying and this information can prove invaluable to a marketing team looking to improve customer experience and get a customer over the line.
This alignment should also apply to other areas of the business such as IT, finance and customer service.
7. Get Enterprise-Wide Buy-In
There’s no doubt about it: leadership and commitment from the top-down are essential in order for any marketing and sales efforts to work.
With customers now at the heart of any business key decision makers must be aware of the importance of customer journey mapping and how it can help transform the customer experience. According to McKinsey while most executives grasp the concept of journey, many wonder whether that pays of in revenue.
The answer to that is clear in the outcomes many businesses that prioritize journey mapping have achieved:
- 55% of consumers will pay more for a good customer experience
- 13% of consumers tell at least 15 people about frustrating experiences with companies
- 72% will tell at least 6 people when they have a positive experience
- Out of 26 unhappy customers, only 1 will complain – the rest will go somewhere else, meaning 'customer satisfaction' reports may be over-representing positive reviews
Again, this is where data collection and analysis becomes vital.
8. Develop KPIs
Until you measure the success of customer journey maps, you can’t expect them to improve much. Obviously, 'revenue' is the ultimate KPI, but there’s a lot more that can be done to monitor the impact of optimizing customer journey mapping and its effect on customer experience.
In terms of an e-commerce website, some important metrics to measure are:
- Scroll rate
- Bounce Rate
- Conversion Rate
- Checkout Abandonment Rate
Setting these as KPIs for marketing departments can help to prioritize the customer journey and ensure that these metrics are part of reporting and analysis. This can also provide insight for the sales department as they come to understand different points of the customer journey and the stages that may need more attention and support.
Post-sales, KPIs are also worth monitoring to learn how often support staff is contacted, ease of onboarding, reviews received, and referrals.
9. Adapt and Change
Above all, don’t let your organization make the mistake of creating a comprehensive customer journey map and letting it collect dust. As customers behaviors continue to change so will their journeys, particularly with technologies evolving all the time. An effective customer journey map required constant review and revision.
To avoid falling down on customer experience, allocate time for the key players to come together and analyze the data on offer and insights across the business to feed into the customer journey. Has anything changes or shifted? What improvements have been made? What are customers saying about their experience and is it different from 6 months ago? Are there any new gaps in the business that have come to light?
Taking the time to examine the evolution of the customer experience with your brand will help to keep ahead of developments and ensure the relevant employees are aware and primed for any changes coming down the line.
Customer experience is no longer just about touchpoints. It's about how a customer interacts with a brand at all points along the buyer journey.
This type of thinking can require an internal shift and require the entire workforce to think about the journey rather than merely different interactions. Those organizations that master it will enjoy increased customer satisfaction and loyalty along with improvements in cost and revenue and an advantage over competitors.