Customer journey mapping is a technique that is growing in popularity, not only with customer experience (CX) professionals, but also within marketing, customer service, user experience (UX), product management and IT. Customer journey mapping helps you to visualize your customer’s experience from the customer’s point of view, across all the different touchpoints they have with your brand as they seek to achieve a specific goal or goals.
In this post, I’ll explain why customer journey maps are emerging as an effective communication, decision-making, and governance tool, and review five scenarios where they can serve as a powerful tool for transforming your organization.
There’s both an art and science to creating effective journey maps. Let’s first look at some of the key characteristics of journey maps, and why they are important.
Journey Maps Simplify Sharing of Key CX Insights
Journey maps transform complex data and insights about your customers into a compact, one-page visual representation. This compact visualization of key information makes journey maps easy to share and understand.
Customer-centric organizations are using journey maps to:
- Establish a holistic understanding of their customer’s current experience across touchpoints
- Understand the “why” behind customer behavioral analytics and scorecards
- Identify the key “make or break it” moments in the overall journey
- Identify and prioritize opportunities to improve the customer experience
- Visualize a “future-state” customer experience to spur innovation
- Communicate and align the organization around a customer-centric model
- Serve as a change management and governance tool
You can always provide more detailed reports and presentations to add depth and nuance to information presented in a journey map. You can even create multiple, related journey maps to visualize and communicate all the important details of your customers journey needed for decision making within your organization.
Use Customer Journey Mapping to Create a Storytelling and Decision Making Framework
The most effective journey maps go beyond simply capturing and representing data in a visual format to tell a story about your customer’s experience from their perspective. They help to create empathy for your customers AND support growth-oriented decision making within your organization.
This means that a selection process happens when translating the customer experience data that has been collected and visualizing it in a map. The level and types of details you select to visualize will depend on your goals for creating the map, who your stakeholders are, and the specifics of your customer’s journey.
Document Customer Stages and Goals
Customer journey maps use a stage model, where each stage represents a significant objective or goal in your customer’s overall journey. The journey is created from the perspective of customer needs, rather than from an internal, business process framework. The journey stages and their related goals create the foundation of your journey map and of the way you think and talk about your customers’ journey within your organization. This helps to shift thinking from an inside-out to an outside-in mentality.
This shift in thinking from internally-focused business processes to externally-focused customer experience stages is an important step towards unleashing the power of your organization to drive growth by creating positive, memorable, customer experiences.
While maintaining an outside-in approach, you can still visualize the relationship between internal process steps and your customer journey stages by including both the ‘front stage’ and ‘back stage’ in the same map.
Capture Customer Feelings and Emotions
A key to understanding your customer’s experience is to understand how their interactions with your brand make them feel. Is your brand delivering experiences that generate positive experiences? Do your customers want to repeat the experiences they’ve had with your brand?
The emotions customers have while interacting with your brand are correlated to their future behaviors—and those behaviors directly impact business growth. Customer expectations for their interactions with brands are becoming increasingly demanding and less forgiving, as more and more companies are delivering customer experiences that truly make their customers’ lives better. Journey maps raise customer emotions at key points in their journey to the forefront.
Understand the Meaning Behind Customer Analytics
This qualitative, humanistic perspective on your customers can help you understand the why behind quantitative customer analytics, scorecard data, and key business performance metrics. This can lead the way to more confident decisions on where to prioritize investment on behalf of experience-driven growth.
In fact, you can integrate key business metrics into your customer journey map, so that it serves as a customer experience dashboard. This integration of qualitative and quantitative data using the journey mapping framework is a powerful way to shift to a customer-oriented view of behavioral analytics, scorecard and business performance data.
From Single Touchpoints and Organizational Siloes to Holistic Customer Journeys
Your customers’ interactions with your brand occur across multiple touchpoints over the course of their journey. A touchpoint refers to each point of interaction between your customer and your brand. If you are a multi-channel retailer, for example, each interaction with your retail web site, a sales associate, a customer service rep, etc., is considered a unique touchpoint.
Most companies are organized into autonomously functioning groups to manage the complex work of delivering the customer experience at each touchpoint. However, customers do not carry this internal model of your company in their head. They are focused on their own goals and needs as they interact with the multiple touchpoints in their journey to meet those goals and needs. How your business is organized to deliver on those goals and needs is invisible and irrelevant to them.
There was a time when it was common for multi-channel retail consumers to be confronted with the fact that the online and brick and mortar areas of their preferred retailer were different business groups and were not coordinated on behalf of the customer experience. Consumers begrudgingly accepted that reality, but were left frustrated.
Today, expectations have changed as a result of innovative companies that realized that they could improve their customers’ lives by making their online and offline retail experiences completely seamless from their customer’s point of view, regardless of the internal organization of the business groups delivering these experiences. Major retailers now make it easy for customers to interact with them across channels in a seamless, unified way—especially at important touchpoints in their journey.
Journey maps help your organization understand how and where customers interact with the different touchpoints in their journey. And most importantly, they show how customer’s experiences at each of those touchpoints impact their overall experience with your brand. A poor experience at a key touchpoint can significantly impact your customer’s experience as they continue in their journey, undo positive experiences at earlier touchpoints, or disrupt a journey altogether.
Customer journey mapping helps you identify those important touchpoints and prioritize investment to create an experience that will drive growth, regardless of which business group or groups are responsible for delivering the experiences at those touchpoints.
Positive Customer Experiences Drive Growth
Customers interact with your brand because they are seeking to meet a need or desire. For example, if you are an airline, your customer may need to travel for business purposes and seeks to have a travel experience that is efficient, flexible, comfortable, and cost effective. They interact with your brand with the expectation of meeting these needs and desires, and will continue to do so if you meet them in a way that generates positive emotions. If you don’t, customers will seek to meet their needs elsewhere. It’s as simple as that.
Successful companies drive growth by delivering experiences that meet customer needs in a way that generate positive emotions and leave customers feeling like they would want to repeat that experience. So, you need an effective tool to help you make customer experience driven decisions to deliver on this vision.
Customer Journey Mapping Reinforces Customer-Driven Decision Making
As a business decision-making tool, customer journey maps bring customer needs and expectations to the forefront of the conversation. They help you identify the most important moments in their journey, understand how your firm is delivering on those key needs and expectations, and prioritize investment in customer experience improvement projects to drive growth.
Customer-driven growth has become increasingly important as more and more companies embrace this approach and address the internal challenges in their organizations that stand in the way of delivering positive customer experiences.
Customer journey maps are a foundational tool to help your firm embrace this reality by shifting the business decision-making framework from traditional business performance metrics to a customer experience driven framework. By this, I mean using your customer journey as the frame or lens through which you view your traditional business performance metric.
Customer Journey Mapping is a Tool for Transforming Your Organization
Journey maps can be helpful to people in different roles and at different levels of an organization. How can journey maps help your organization? Here are five situations where customer journey mapping can be used to transform your organization:
1. Spread a customer-centric culture across your organization
“CX success requires a strong appetite for culture.”
—Temkin Group in Hungry for CX, Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch
Top-down culture change is essential to create an efficient customer experience driven organization. It’s also challenging. Here’s a list of some common ways CX leaders such as Chief Customer Officers (CCOs), Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) can use customer journey mapping to drive culture change:
- Engage leaders throughout the organization, across silos, as key stakeholders and collaborators to identify the most important customer journey(s) to model. This is an important first step for building collaboration across silos.
- Use a journey map to demonstrate the impact of customer emotions on business performance. This needs to be established in order for leaders to be open to understanding that the business metrics and scorecards typically used in these scenarios only tell part of the performance story.
- Prioritize the key CX opportunities identified in a high level customer journey map with leadership across organizational silos and use that as a starting point for creating a strategic roadmap for making changes.
- Partner with a specific business unit or other functional group with your organization to drill down on a specific stage or touchpoint in the overall journey. This way, you can better understand whether the product or service they own is:
- Impacting the customer experience
- Useful as a tool for re-imagining the experience where it is falling short
- Useful for ongoing governance of the changes they make to the experience.
- Work with executive leadership to use your customer journey mapping framework as the starting points in leadership meetings, where business performance is being reviewed, evaluated, and acted upon. This is a foundational step to help your organization move from an inside-out culture to an outside-in culture.
2. Prioritize your business unit’s investments for the coming fiscal year to drive growth
If you are a leader in a business group that owns the customer experience for one channel and you need to prioritize your investments over the next year, how can you ensure that they’re aligned across the organization?
Like you, the leaders of other channels may believe that the interactions across channels need to be orchestrated on behalf of a seamless customer experience. Despite good intentions, without a formal tool in place to facilitate this type of planning each leader will create their own prioritized list aligned with their individual goals and objectives.
Your customer journey map can provide a unified lens through which you and your colleagues can prioritize future investments:
- Create a customer journey map that illustrates the role each touchpoint and channel play in the overall customer journey.
- Your journey map identifies key moments in the journey where touchpoints with your channel are disappointing your customers.
- Use your customer journey map in your pre-strategic planning conversations with your peers across the organization. In particular, use the map in your conversations with channel leaders where the customer is out of sync with the experience in their channel. They can easily understand the importance of changing the experience to be more seamless between the channels and the impact it will have on business growth.
3. Rejuvenate the growth of an existing product
As a product owner, you may already be a passionate believer in user-centered design and your team may already employ well-established methods for incorporating iterative user feedback into the product strategy and design process. However, despite all the great work of your team, product growth may not be where you want it to be. Customer journey mapping can help you revitalize your product by enabling you to:
- Partner with the cross-functional groups who support your product and create a customer journey map. The map will illustrate the customers journey from product consideration through purchasing it, using it, and obtaining support.
- Use the journey map to identify opportunities across all the different functional areas and provide context for some of the known issues and help the team brainstorm on how to solve them.
4. Jumpstart lead generation for a new product
A challenge many marketers face when generating demand for a new product is that you may not know a lot about your target buyers and how they evaluate and purchase products like yours.
If your marketing group uses a lead generation process that was designed based on internal processes and goals, you will want to see what you could learn by using the buyer’s journey as the primary view. You can always map the internal process to the buyer’s journey and evaluate how well those processes are serving the needs of prospective customers. To take a buyer-focused approach to lead generation you can:
- Commission a third party to conduct qualitative research with existing and prospective customers to model the customer journey from awareness, evaluation and purchase through to initial onboarding, retention and advocacy.
- Partner with sales to validate and obtain buy-in.
- Communicate key insights and action items to your sales and customer success teams, including where inconsistencies between functional areas are creating friction for prospective buyers.
5. Improve Voice of the Customer feedback
Over the past several years, your company may have invested a lot in gathering and refining customer and business performance data. If so, your leadership team is probably interested in and listens to Voice of the Customer (VOC) feedback.
As the VOC leader, you deliver Net Promoter Scores (NPS), customer satisfaction feedback on specific touchpoints, and customer verbatims culled from the surveys. Scorecards are delivered by channel, business units and business processes. Whenever possible, your team integrates key scorecard metrics with customer insights culled from other customer research studies, both qualitative and quantitative, to provide additional context.
Despite all this customer insight, your organization may be struggling to deliver a customer experience that is driving the targeted level of growth. If so, you can:
- Identify and collaborate with a CX strategist or external partner to deliver a customer journey map that models the customer journey across all the major stages of their relationship with your company.
- Use the resulting customer journey map to modify the Voice of the Customer scorecards you deliver to the executive and business unit leadership team to report data by customer stage, whenever possible.
- Enable the leadership teams to think about VOC data through the lens of the customer and to think about how those scores relate to the customer experience story—and key points of delight and friction—in their journey.
Leading organizations are now looking to differentiate themselves from their competition by delivering an exceptional customer experience. Customer journey maps are built from the customer’s perspective, use goal-based stages as the framework, visualize your customers interactions with your brand across multiple touchpoints, and identify the emotions they are experiencing throughout the journey. Journey maps are a tool for chronicling the customer experience from an outside-in perspective and presenting them in an honest, engaging, and actionable way—which makes them an ideal tool for transforming your company into a truly customer-centric organization.
Curious about Customer Journey Mapping software? Check out this complimentary report, “How To Use Customer Journey Mapping Software” by Forrester Analyst Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha.
Learn how you can create and share journey maps, personas and more using UX360.
5 Ways Customer Journey Mapping Can Transform Your Business Right Now originally appeared on the TandemSeven blog.
Photo credits: “Discussing leadership” and “Change Leadership” by visualpun.ch licensed under CC by 2.0