Steps For Creating The Complete Customer Journey Maps
For most marketers and business owners today, customer journey mapping and customer persona development are no longer entirely unfamiliar terms.
However, it is true that most of us are hesitant in making use of these excellent approaches to improve our marketing efforts because we imagine them to be too time/resource consuming without properly understanding them.
What is a customer journey map?
To put it in the simplest terms, a customer journey map is a visualization of the entire timeline in which a customer interacts with your business.
This visualization can help you do better marketing by clarifying the customer’s behavior, needs, and pain-points.
Why do you need customer journey mapping?
As a rule of thumb, the better you know your customer, the better you will be able to communicate with them, and the better will you be able to satisfy their needs. Keeping that in mind, it becomes obvious that to improve the interaction between your customers and your business, you first need to understand that interaction from beginning to end.
That’s exactly what mapping customer journeys in multichannel decision making does for you.
This understanding can help you on various levels. For instance, it can help you decide whether an ad on social media should lead the customers to your website’s home page, or the product’s category page, or perhaps directly to the payment and checkout page.
Similarly, by analyzing the customer journey you can understand how comfortable the customers are with your UI and much help it is being to drive smooth conversions.
If you observe customers spending too much time at a certain step of the customer journey, you can draw necessary conclusions, if you observe a high drop rate at a certain step, you can remove it and merge it with the previous or next step.
The point here is simple enough: customer lifecycle journey mapping helps you bring the focus from the needs of various stakeholders to the needs of your customers, thus enabling you to reflect that in your marketing.
Let us look at a few steps in customer journey mapping which can help you get started in an effective way.
1. Develop the customer persona
A customer persona is a fictitious customer who reflects the preferences, income-brackets, age ranges, etc. of your customers to a fairly accurate degree.
It is, of course, expected to be only a generalization and not a 100% accurate one at that, but it is better to do the necessary research before developing a user persona.
In case, it is beyond the scope of your organization to take up this exercise for any technical or logistical reasons, there are market-leaders like Epsilon who combine cutting-edge technology and years of experience to provide you comprehensive support.
If you have not already defined a customer persona, it is imperative that you do so before beginning the process of customer journey mapping.
Also, depending on the nature of your business and the diversity of your customers, you may need to develop multiple personas and then map their respective customer journeys.
2. Identify the touchpoints
Touchpoints are the various instances during the customer journey at which the customer interacts with your brand.
These may also include instances of interaction independent from the customer’s digital journey: for instance an offline interaction like an information booth, or a post-conversion interaction like a customer service call.
It must also be taken into account that different touchpoints may be significant to a brand to different degrees, and must be focussed upon as such.
A good way to identify the various touchpoints is to ask the customers directly (for example, by getting them to fill a survey).
However, if that is not possible due to logistical concerns, the same can be approximated by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, and by consulting colleagues in sales and customer service who interact with customers on a regular basis.
3. Understand the goals of your customer
After you have worked out a customer persona, the next step is to understand what your customers expect from you during the different phases of the customer journey. As they go through each phase, the goals will vary accordingly.
For instance, for a new customer visiting your website for the first time, the first goal might be to create an account quickly and easily.
Similarly, once a customer has logged in, the goal might change to better browsing for gaining more information about the products or services, followed by a secure payment and checkout process.
The final expectation may include a reassurance or thank-you email along with information about accessing customer service.
To understand these goals the customer will have, you need to understand the various paths a customer may take on your website or application.
Then, you can break down this path into touchpoints, and for finally moving on to the customer’s goals at these touchpoints you can analyze the customer actions at these touchpoints.
The goal flow report in Google Analytics can help you in this process.
4. Recognize the pain-points of the customers
One of the most important objectives of spending time and resources in customer journey mapping is to recognize and address the pain-points of customers in the course of this journey.
This includes bringing together quantitative and qualitative data to identify potential roadblocks.
Though the actual process of recognizing the pain-points may be much more nuanced because of the differences between businesses and the customers, a few good questions which can help you are:
- Are the customers achieving their goals on my website?
- Where are the main areas of friction and frustration?
- Where are most people abandoning purchases and why?
Once you recognize the pain-points, you can move forward with developing strategies to address them. In some cases, it might be a good idea to get customer feedback about the way they think their issues can be solved.
5. Arrive at a clear visualization and evaluate the map
The clarity of your customer journey map to all stakeholders should be a matter of utmost priority because all of your hard work would have been in vain if the analysis ends up at the bottom of a drawer and is not acted upon while planning the future marketing efforts.
To ensure this you must focus upon making the visualization understandable and engaging to people in different roles and functions in your business organization.
Also, in the same vein, to make the customer journey map actionable, you must include KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer satisfaction measures, quantitative assessments of customer emotions, measures of the importance/helpfulness of specific touchpoints.
By including these quantitative metrics, you can measure the overall quality of customer experience with the help of customer journey mapping.
6. The sooner you begin, the more you can gain
With a marketing exercise like customer journey mapping, it is better to start as soon as you finish deciding the goals you want to achieve by it and the specific way you want to perform it with reference to the nature of your business.
The time you waste by delaying this has a cascade effect because by delaying the insights you also delay the analysis, and therefore the marketing decisions which could have directly improved performance and returns.
In some cases, even a single unrecognized touchpoint that is frustrating for customers in their journey through your website can lead to huge losses in terms of brand identity and customer loyalty.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to move forward with customer journey mapping and to thus ensure a good experience for your customers and a good business for yourself.