People have been using maps to better understand journeys for over 2500 years, and, despite mostly being replaced by GPS-technology, this ancient tool could help breathe new life into uninspired customer experiences (CX). But what actually is customer journey mapping (CJM)?
At a very basic level, customer journey mapping is exactly what it sounds like. It’s creating a visual representation of the customer journey through your organisation, from the very first contact to post-sale support – and hopefully, a continued business relationship.
Delve a little deeper though and CJM becomes a vital tool for better understanding the CX involved in every interaction with your brand (also known as customer touchpoints).
CJM isn’t just marking these touchpoints though, it’s distilling a better understanding of the customer experience by documenting the feelings, challenges, and goals driving your customers in these interactions.
Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?
Previously, the customer journey was predictable and linear, meaning it was a relatively simple task to understand and control the customer experience.
These days though, customers desire a seamless multi-channel experience, and that means interacting with you whenever, wherever, and however they want – effectively killing the traditional customer journey.
And its replacement is a far more difficult beast to tame.
Splintered and sprawling, disparate and unwieldy, the modern customer journey spans a multitude of channels, platforms and devices. It exists somewhere outside of time and space, with your business now needing to be always available, anywhere in the world.
With customer touchpoints occurring seemingly at random, CJM helps capture those individual moments, and, using advanced analytics, communicates the customer experience. This means the insights are measurable, actionable and should empower your organisation to make the changes necessary to optimise customer experience.
While this is great, improving CX at individual touchpoints can lead to an uneven and disjointed customer journey. Creating a connected and integrated experience for your customers requires a wider view of the customer journey that takes every single touchpoint, and it's role in the customer experience as a whole, into consideration.
This is only possible by using CJM to plot every disparate touchpoint from initial customer contact through to post-sale support and the development of a long-term relationship.
Why use a customer journey map?
Creating and using a customer journey map can be invaluable for helping you better understand your customers and see the journey they take, through their eyes – giving you vital insight into their needs and how you can better meet them.
Ultimately, if rigorously researched, a customer journey map is well worth the resources, time and effort that go into it and will help all areas of your organisation create better solutions to your customers’ problems, at each stage of their journey.
Customers have come to expect seamless experiences when interacting with brands, no matter which platform or device they’re using. This means that any weak-link in the chain of your customer journey can be the difference between a sale and an abandoned basket.
This could be sub-optimal website performance on certain devices, a lack of support on some channels leading to a bad experience, or even a disconnect between departments – for example, your sales and support teams not sharing information.
But customer journey maps aren’t just for identifying areas of improvement, they can also help your business define its strengths. Pinpointing the standout moments in your customer journey can help you incorporate them into other areas or set yourself apart from competitors.
What does a customer journey map look like?
There are many different ways customer journey maps can be visualised, from traditional atlas-style maps to topographical, climatic and political maps. Similarly, there are also many different types of customer journey maps including:
- A linear map that simply demonstrates how a customer moves from their initial interaction with a brand to post-sales support and all the touchpoints in between.
- A circular map that highlights the need to engage the customer beyond the moment a sale is made, in order to secure repeat business.
- An illustrated map that represents more active or practical journeys and helps to convey the actions and emotions of customers.
- A video map that better captures emotion than static imagery, to help employees understand the customer experience at a more personal level – making for highly engaging content.
The right map for you will depend on your company culture, your resources and your preferences, but ultimately the layout doesn’t matter as long as the map effectively communicates customers’ needs, challenges, and feelings about their experience.
Managing the modern customer journey is a very different task from that of even a decade ago, with touchpoints occurring across a multitude of devices and channels, often outside of traditional working hours.
Providing the seamless experience that customers expect can therefore be a challenge for any organisation that doesn’t fully understand where gaps and disconnects might exist.
Customer Journey Mapping is a vital tool for gaining the insight required to optimise the entire customer experience and ensure customers are completely satisfied throughout their interactions with your business.
Whether you need us to consult, advise, or conduct the process for you, we can assist you with your customer journey map as much or as little as you like – and you can get started right now by downloading our Introduction to Customer Journey Mapping ebook.