If you find it challenging to understand some of your customers’ actions (like that old abandoned cart issue many of us grapple with), you’re not alone. But it’s where a customer journey map will help you immensely.
We’re wired to engage with and understand stories and pictures more than anything else. For us marketers, visually highlighting the root causes of customer frustrations and pain helps us understand our audiences better. A holistic view of the end-to-end customer journey helps prioritise future activities, including customer experience design and communications.
With increased empathy, your team is able to 'walk in the shoes' of customers and consider their role in shaping the experience. Customer journey maps should ultimately become a shared vision, informing and prioritising all future marketing efforts.
A mile in their shoes
Take the case of shopping for runners. What does your journey look like from the initial thought (“Hey, I need new runners”) to purchase (“I love my new runners”)?
You search a couple of websites and find a number of shoes you like. Pricing is very competitive, so you look up some product reviews and ask for recommendations on a social media group to help you make a shortlist. You might go to a couple of stores to try your shortlisted products and see how they feel. You buy the right one then and there, or you might think about and order it online later.
The closer for you is obviously how the shoes fit and feel. But your decision may be influenced by your experience with the various touch-points you’ve had along this journey. For instance, a website was too slow to load or didn’t offer the right shipping options or a store assistant was rude or unhelpful.
A customer journey map simply captures your (and your customers’) journey though these phases and identifies the critical touch-points.
It’s no wonder customer journey mapping is a critical skill in the marketer’s toolkit. While you don’t need to be a designer to create informative maps, the more visually engaging your maps are, the easier it will be to ensure their ongoing relevance. And when journey maps work well, they become key reference points for a wide variety of teams working across the business.
And this becomes very important, as usually multiple areas of an organisation are responsible for delivering the ultimate customer experience. When you can identify and map out key stages and touch-points in a strategic way, you’ll have a very powerful tool in your hands. It will help influence and align your efforts, increasing your impact and work satisfaction.
But remember: providing a truly seamless customer experience begins with organisations putting customers at the centre of their operations.