Getting into the heads of your customers is an interesting challenge. Even those at the highest entrepreneurial tier are asking themselves:
- Who are my customers?
- What are they thinking?
- Where did they hear about me?
- Why did they spend so long on this web page?
- And why in the world did abandon their cart?
There’s a good chance you’re asking yourself these questions as well. When we talk about the customer journey we’re not talking about Magellan here. We’re talking about every single avenue a customer can take to interact with your product or service. But just like an explorer, you have to be prepared and knowledgeable of every obstacle your customers may face on their journey.
You have to make it easy for them and you have to make them feel empowered enough to do it on their own.
Customers don’t want to be told what to buy or how to purchase, they simply want the easiest path to the best product or service.
This seems simple enough, right?
You’re probably thinking: “How hard could it be? I know my customers, I know their pain points, I know what they want. This is nonsense.”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s a pretty cavalier attitude.
It’s also nearly impossible to successfully have an understanding of your customers wants and needs without asking. If your customer journey map is created with only internal perspectives of your consumer base — you’re missing out on what they’re actually experiencing.
Consumers interact with your products or services in a ton of ways. From social media and reviews, to contact centers and purchasing. And in between those things, there are so many more ways your customers are experiencing your brands customer journey strategy.
That’s why it’s essential that you’re asking them all about their experiences.
They’re even encountering the customer experience tactics you don’t fully utilize. Why? Because your competition is more than likely implementing those strategies and your consumer base will take note if you are not.
But writing down or explaining the customer journey map doesn’t always cut it. Even if you have all the verbiage down, things can fall flat when trying to get everyone on the same page. That’s why it helps to have a visual representation of your customer’s journey that maps out how you plan on assisting them every step of the way.
This map is centered around a goal and lays out the processes that it will take to achieve that goal. It’s all about understanding your customers motivations, intentions, pain points and needs.
Once you’ve got those down you can focus on structuring the interactions your customer have with your brand and figure out how to make the process easiest for them.
A word to the wise — this process (or map) is not linear. Because there are so many ways your customers can come into contact with your brand — the map will look much more circular or possibly even amoebic.
So why exactly do you need a Customer Journey Map?
Well, firstly you need to be thinking about the long term success of your customer journey strategy. If you’re solving problems and needs for the now, your falling behind on the future.
A customer journey map allows you to see and make changes to the malleable state of the customer’s wants and needs. It paves the way for seeing a clear goal and taking a clearer look at your touchpoints to see how you can improve and reach success.
Let’s take a better look at why you should be creating a customer journey map:
You can establish a target audience through customer journey mapping. This is an obvious one, but it’s an important point to make. Without a clear understanding of the psychographics and demographics of your target audience, you’ll be casting a wide net in the wrong part of the ocean.
Creating an inbound approach is your counter to the traditional outbound method. It’s not only far more cost effective, but it doesn’t pester potential customers or clients. Creating interesting content and helpful resources that consumers find your product or service through makes for a great customer experience before they even become a customer. A customer journey map allows you to see exactly what it is that’s interesting or helpful to your target audience.
Creating a customer-centric approach is pretty much the industry standard at this point. But that type of attitude has to be adopted by everyone in your organization to reach the greatest possible outcome. Sales and marketing have to be on the same page. Leadership teams all the way down to distribution have to be on the same page. Everyone has to be on the same exact page.
What page is that?
The one with the customer written all over it.
A customer journey map can be given to everyone in the organization. It spells out every step needed to create the best experience possible. From the very first touchpoint to after-purchase contact — every single experience is included.
How do you create a Customer Journey Map
You know the what and you know the why…so you’re probably asking yourself how to create a customer journey map.
Here are the steps you should take at the beginning:
Figure out the goals of the customer journey map
This is where you ask yourself the basics. Who is your target audience? What are their ideal experiences? What is the core objective of this map?
Create your customer personas and their goals
This is going to take some work, it takes some creative thinking but it’s rewarding and well worth it in the end. Get as much customer feedback and input from actual customers or your target audience population as you can.
This can include testimonials, reviews, user testing, questionnaires or surveys. Just make sure you ask the right questions.
Map out every touchpoint a consumer can have with your product or service
If you want your map to be accurate, you need to know every step of the way. What are those steps? Those are your customer touchpoints. You need to know every when and where that your current or potential customers could have an experience with your product or service.
All of this information should come from meticulous research into your target audience. It should come from the information you gather from your customers through questionnaires and surveys. You need a well rounded understanding of where and how customers are currently experiencing touchpoints and where and how you may want them experiencing touchpoints in the future.
This can include:
- Social channels
- Review sites
- Word of mouth
Regardless of where these touchpoints are, you need to know them all.
This includes all the actions your customers then make once they interact with any given touchpoint. This could be clicking an ad, searching on Google, unsubscribing to an email campaign. Whatever it is, it should be noted. You want to minimize the amount of actions a customer needs to make in order to complete a purchase, so understanding where the fat can be cut is essential.
Get to know their emotions
Understanding how a customer feels is a big part of the journey. The emotions your customers feel before, during and after their purchase is invaluable information. It will allow you to take a closer look at what works and what doesn’t.
Most of the emotional ammunition you’re aiming for comes from problems, hurdles and paint points a consumer has. If you can solve those issues in the most pleasant and quickest way possible, you’re on the right track.
This includes your own process. If any of the steps you’re identifying on your customer journey map are creating friction or pain points, you need to identify them and create a better solution.
Figure out what you want your map to have in it
Once you’ve gathered all the information you need it’s time for the fun part. This is where you get to create all of the components of your map with the knowledge you’ve gathered. This is where you get to see the benefits of all your hard work.
There are a few different types of maps you can create.
- Maps that identify the current steps, emotions and thoughts your customers experience
- Maps that identify what steps, emotions and thoughts your customers will undergo in the future — this is your ideal map
- A day in the life map is where you look at what your ideal customer goes through in their day and how you can solve any problems or pain points in it
Try out the journey map yourself
The only way to see any potential problems or hiccups before you take your map to the customer is to try it out yourself. Take the journey for each persona through different channels.
Identify any hiccups or pain points. Write everything down. Be honest and diligent with problems that you see.
The only better way to see the map’s potential is to try it out on consumers.
After everything is said and done, you need to make changes according to what you experience. Analyze the data you collect from your run throughs and understand that the map is dynamic. It will always be changing and adapting to meet the needs of the customer.