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Our Guide to Customer Journey Mapping

It’s a competitive business environment, and pleasing customers enough to win their loyalty requires much more than providing great products. This leads us toward a renewed focus on customers and how they experience our businesses. At every stage of the sales funnel and beyond it, our businesses create impressions that combine to form an overall experience. Customer journey maps set out each of these touchpoints, allowing business leaders to optimise each of them so that customer impressions will be overwhelmingly positive. 

A customer journey map ensures that every step on the way towards a purchase – and the steps that follow – are taken into account. Without it, it may be easy to overlook some small but important detail that either prevents customers from making a purchase or that leaves them with a negative impression. Even neutrality is not good enough. A customer who is neutral is perfectly likely to support your competitors next time around. 

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

If you haven’t yet done customer journey mapping, now is a great time to start. You’ve probably realised that not all customer journeys will be exactly the same, and it’s true that you’re likely to end up with several customer journey maps. But, to begin with, you can consider your typical customer and plot their journey towards a purchase and beyond. After that, it’s easy to tweak it to take less typical journeys into account. 

If you’ve already captured your sales funnel, the typical customer journey map will follow it closely – and go beyond it. If you haven’t, you can conceptualise both the sales funnel and the customer journey map at once. A very basic representation will include the following stages:

Attention 

“This company has a product.” Terminology varies, so the “attention” phase is sometimes termed “awareness,” and it represents the first step of the customer journey. So, your first step in creating a customer journey map is to consider how people become aware of your business. Online businesses can quite easily use automated analytics as customer journey mapping tools that show them the sources of traffic to their websites. This could be anything from organic search to social media advertising. 

Interest

“I’d like to know more.” If you pique their interest during the awareness phase, the next thing customers do is to explore what you offer. They’ll also compare it to other alternatives – and they might have questions. It’s vital that you make it easy for them to find the answers they’re looking for. Compare this to entering a brick-and-mortar store. If you can’t easily find what you want, you might just walk out there and then. And if you want help from a sales assistant but you can’t get their attention, you’re sure to leave empty-handed. 

Desire

“I want something like this.” Play your cards right, however, and your prospect may decide that they have a desire to purchase your product. But the sale isn’t made yet. There may be another round of comparison shopping, and any questions they have will become more specific than they were before. Consider the ways in which prospective customers would interact with your business, and what they may experience elsewhere. You want your business to get through this phase with flying colours.  

Action

“I’ll buy that.” At last, your prospect is ready to convert and become a customer, but you can’t leave this part of their journey to chance either. How will you make your customers feel like VIPs as they reach for their wallets? Is it easy to make the purchase?

The last phase of the customer journey isn’t part of the sales funnel at all. But it’s decisive and often overlooked. Having bought what you have to offer, your customers will still expect service and support. And those needs may extend to the entire time during which they’re using your product. Having won a customer, you don’t want to lose them now! After all, you’d like them to support you next time around – and even recommend you to their friends. Map it out. Know what they’re experiencing.

Customer Journey Map Example

Customer journeys are usually plotted in a linear fashion with each stage being allocated a category. This allows you to construct multiple customer journeys based on these phases. What these consist of depends on your type of business, but a typical example might include:

  • Identifying a need or want
  • Researching solutions
  • Making a purchase
  • Onboarding
  • Using the product
  • Retention
  • Referral

To optimise each of these steps, consider the needs, thoughts and feelings of consumers at every phase. But people can surprise you – we may think we know what they want, but the reality might differ from that. Surveys can be very helpful customer journey mapping tools but be sure to keep them simple while allowing customers to expand on their answers if they want to. 

Insights from your customer service team and website analytics can be extremely valuable. Look for bottlenecks, hitches, pain points, and frequently asked questions. Now, consider how you can address them. Remember, it’s a journey. You want it to be smooth and pleasant, and it shouldn’t be necessary to stop and ask for directions!

Customer Journey Mapping Process and Pitfalls

Mapping customer journeys may seem fairly simple. Here are the steps:

  • Gather data
  • Create personas
  • Look for touchpoints
  • Optimise touchpoints
  • Get loyal customers

But each of these steps has hidden pitfalls. For example, if your data isn’t good, then you might be barking up the wrong tree from the outset. And, if you generate irrelevant personas, you’re setting out to please the wrong people. As for touchpoints, customers won’t always follow a formula: are you missing important moments? If you are, they could be the very areas where you’re losing customers along the way. Finally, don’t drop the ball after you’ve clinched the deal. Your aim is not only to get customers, but to keep them and develop them into brand advocates.

The bottom line? The top challenge to overcome in customer journey mapping is knowing your customers: not who you think they are or what you think they will do – but the reality. It’s not something you can do effectively as a theoretical exercise, and the more perspectives you collect, the more likely you are to get on the right track. 

Do You Listen to Your Customers?

Surveys are great, but they have to be rather simplistic or you won’t get responses. It’s possible that survey results may leave you with more questions than answers. For example, metrics like your Net Promoter Score may point towards customer journey issues but fail to pinpoint the moments that matter most to your customers. 

In the end, good, old-fashioned talking and listening may reveal surprising insights – so your customer-faced staff can become your top source of information. To do this effectively, they need to know what your goals are, understand customer journeys, and be able to alert you to areas for improvement. 

This might seem to throw up some additional problems for you beginning with where you’ll find customer service agents who will go beyond just “doing their jobs” and how you’re to capture and collate all the data they collect. 

The solution lies in a combination of the right people and the right tech tools. At RSVP, we provide you with both. Advanced software and analytics combine with customer service agents who know how to listen actively. Your customers may forgive much if they receive dedicated help from real people, but we don’t overlook the fact that you want to pinpoint moments when customers are struggling on their journeys. After all, if the journey is a smooth one, requests for assistance should be the exception. 

Let’s work together to create great customer experiences. Contact us to find out more about our business process and communications outsourcing services – let’s get the ball rolling!

 

Read more about the Customer Lifecycle.

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