Want to learn the progression of interactions a customer has with your brand? You can chart out their customer journey to get a clear perspective. This process is called customer journey mapping, and it’s what many organizations use to get a better understanding of how customers interact with their brand, both online and offline.
What is a customer journey map?
A customer journey map is the visual presentation of a customer’s interactions with a brand. It begins from the time the purchase notion enters the customer’s mind until the end of the experience lifecycle. In other words, it’s the mapping of every touchpoint a customer encounters as they move through the marketing funnel, from being a prospective customer up till the end of customer lifecycle.
In order to create an accurate customer journey map, brands deploy tools that focus on identifying obstructions, deviations, tripwires, frustrations, and accelerators that impact the customer experience at every stage. The ultimate goal is to build a prototype customer journey map that takes typical customers to the cash till and beyond into repeat purchases, extending life cycles for as long as possible.
Why is customer journey mapping important?
Put another way, “What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?”
Gone are the days when customer engagement was a straightforward process. The internet changed that by opening a broad arena of dynamic platforms impacting how we behave in the marketplace. As a start, it sped up decision-making alongside triggering:
- The impact of influencers on our choices
- The explosion of apps to inform and streamline our buying paths
- Live chat customer support on websites
- A culture of “order four return three” – spurring a reverse logistics industry
- Numerous buying holidays as mainstream events
- The growth of the buy-now-pay-later industry
- A shift away from brick-and-mortar to online shopping
As a result, customers do a lot of zigzagging from one touchpoint to the next in a dizzying sequence that can be confusing. Moreover, brand loyalty, where repeat buying becomes the norm, grows more and more elusive in an era of intense competition and market disruptors pull customers away with enticing incentives.
So, how can customer journey mapping help? When you have the approximate idea of how customers proceed through the interactions and realize that certain points are seeing a higher abandonment rate, you’ll know exactly which touchpoint you need to zero in on. For example, you might notice that the payments page has a low customer satisfaction score, meaning something is off. But your customer journey map shows you that many customers drop off before even reaching the payment page – usually abandoning their carts. This tells you that perhaps the problem isn’t limited to a single corrupted touchpoint (i.e., the payment page). Instead, you need to take a closer look at how the cart is designed. Is it intuitive? Can it be modified easily? Are there loading issues?
Customer journey mapping locates and defines all these Touchpoints and is the primary tool for cleaning up one’s sales and marketing act.
Create your customer journey map today with SogoCX!
5 best practices for customer journey mapping
1. Visualize what you want to get out of a mapping exercise
In short, how detailed do you want the touchpoint analysis to be? Indeed, you may already understand several touchpoints intimately and instinctively know of some that have been getting away from you (i.e., the ones accelerating customer churn). Mapping the customer journey helps you add substance to your assumptions, ensuring you take data-driven decisions.
An in-depth analysis of customer interactions with your brand may reveal that your online strategies are your strength, whereas in-store lets you down (or vice versa). You can formulate numerous mapping initiatives, each with different goals, and prioritize them based on your customer success strategy.
2. Let your customer journey map meet your market segmentation profiles
Modern marketing converges on convincing stakeholders that it makes far more sense to aim for more significant shares of market niches than a tiny piece of all the niches aggregated. For example, consider the following (which we’ll call Market Segment A):
- Women drivers with a college education
- Aged 28 – 40 years
- Earning over $100,000 annually
- With lofty career ambitions
- Who are fiercely independent
- Living in Georgia
So, auto-centric companies (e.g., car manufacturers, accessories distributors, or auto insurers) are better off aiming for sizable shares (say 30%) of Market Segment A versus aiming for 1% of all women, irrespective of their demographics living in every state.
The question is, “Why?”
Because one can’t communicate credibly and create brand loyalty in a marketplace defined only by gender. Conversely, Segment A members – with a distinctive profile – represent a buyer persona group that, according to marketing-proven data, share similar aspirations, behavioral patterns, influence groups, self-image, family orientations, habits, and perceptions.
So, mapping a Segment A member’s customer journey and nailing all the touchpoints as sales accelerators is infinitely less challenging than mapping the customer journey of a wider but more generalized audience. In addition, it’s significantly less costly and substantially more accurate. Finally, the blockbuster benefit of drawing up a customer journey map for a small sample of Segment A customers is highly likely to apply to thousands who will follow a similar mapping road.
3. Make sure your customer persona is scalable
The question is, how small can a segment be before it warrants mapping? The answer is, it boils down to sustainable buying power. So, for example, if your customer is the military for a mega-million dollar contract or, say, IBM for a computer part running into the millions, it may be the only customer you need. One customer journey mapping is the purest form because you don’t have to extrapolate it to embrace other segment members.
In a mass market (with hundreds, thousands, or millions of consumers) integral to making a segment worthwhile, it’s impossible to map every segment member. In cases like this, mapping a representative sample of customers makes more sense.
Notably, B2B situations suit single-customer mapping, except that several company employees may be involved in a buying decision. It creates complications.
For example, a buyer company may require its engineers and the legal department to examine a value proposition, agreements, and regulations around product usage. Next, the finance team may add their piece around the funding and profitability of the relevant project.
Consequently, each participating entity becomes a vital touchpoint as the process moves from one to the other. As a result, failure to address the concerns of any committee member may kill the deal.
In B2C scenarios buying groups are unlikely, except when prospects seek advice from reviews, friends, family, or customer support. Indeed, each of these is a touchpoint that can stifle or energize enthusiasm. Similar profile groups will probably rely on similar reference groups (influencers), so any slippage of brand image in these quarters can disrupt the customer journey.
4. Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to digital mapping
Digital customer journey mapping is something that any company can get into. Journey mapping tools digitally scan a brand’s entire customer interaction landscape via machine learning in a fraction of time compared to a human taking on the same task.
To do so, the digital tool collects accurate data and converts it into valuable quantitative and qualitative insights. It identifies what customers are doing at each touchpoint, providing deep insights into customer behavior online. It may even fill in the gaps in offline customer interactions by applying intuitive algorithms.
5. Make sure all the vital touchpoints and your team are in the mix
Circling back to the first tip, setting your objectives provides a bird’s eye view, establishing the customer personas you aim to map.
However, once you get started you’ll also notice that various segments impact marketing success, and even in the same segment, you’ll discover customer journeys for prospects, new customers, and loyal ones that follow different paths. As examples:
- Perhaps you’ve observed a spike in existing customer churn – in other words, long-term clients abandoning ship
- Alternatively, the inflow of new customers is not what you expect or perhaps they’re reaching your brands from different touchpoints
- Or one-time-purchase clients are dominating the pipeline
All kinds of scenarios arise that influence your objectives. However, from there, I advise getting your marketing and sales team on board to analyze the digital customer journey mapping exercise for each scenario.
Why? Because it takes all hands on deck to identify the touchpoints you want to visualize. Touchpoints can sneak under the radar of one individual, but with a dedicated project group commissioned to identify them, it becomes unlikely.
Any touchpoint sequence is only as strong as the weakest link, and getting that under the mapping microscope is vital. It’s the only way to make the output meaningful.
From the above, we can see that understanding customer behavior is a complex process that can go in many directions, depending on the customer journey map stages you outline in your objectives. Customers move online and offline between touchpoints, sometimes at a furious pace, making it challenging to sustainably create a customer journey that inspires loyalty.
The idea is to make sense of it with sophisticated software, erase the corrupted touchpoints, and promote those that support brand loyalty. The secret is inputting relevant client stepping stones, determining which ones you want to examine, and ensuring the mapping exercise focuses on meaningful market segments.
Ready to get started? SogoCX makes it easy to chart out your customer journey and capture valuable insights across touchpoints. Need a little more help? We also offer managed projects to help you hit the ground running!
Let’s get on a call and we’d love to discuss how we can add value to your business.