Map Out the Customer Journey to Close the Loop with Customers


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Customers churn when they do not feel heard and valued. It’s the evolving task of CX professionals to overcome this challenge.

If a customer does not feel heard, then they may not feel valued. Not being heard or valued can result in churn. So, if you are looking for ways to build deeper relationships with your customers, you must find a way to make them feel heard and valued. You do this by incorporating a closed loop feedback system into your customer journey map.

Closing the loop is defined as communicating with customers about their feedback. Engaging in this ongoing conversation, in the context of your customer journey map, allows you to best engage and drive value from your customer base.

There is no better time than now to start to incorporate closed-loop feedback systems into your customer journey map. There are several trends that show why this is so important.

1) Improving end-to-end customer journeys will help reduce churn. TechSee reports that 80% of customers churned due to dissatisfaction with service quality and that there is a lack of customer data transfer between service interactions. That’s a problem. We agree that there is a big opportunity to improve end-to-end customer journeys to eliminate avoidable churn.

Failure to close the loop somewhere along the customer journey causes customers to churn.

2) Your people alone cannot solve this problem. Forrester reports that “a majority of customer experience (CX) teams lack crucial skills including design thinking, inclusive experience design, survey design, journey mapping, and data literacy and storytelling [my emphasis].” Your teams may not be equipped to handle the journey mapping process by themselves. And even experienced teams will be looking to reduce the amount of manual work when closing the customer feedback loop.

Your customer journey maps need more than people to adequately close the loop.

3) Automation has become easier to implement and more likely to be used for CX at your company. Forrester also reports that automation is shifting from large-scale transformation to more standard uses: “Rather than make huge shifts to machine-learning, companies will settle on solving known issues with automation.” CX has a great case to make for automation. Don’t think canned survey responses — think routed feedback to teams who can quickly solve challenges.

CX teams can use automation to reduce the manual tasks involved in closing the customer feedback loop.

Companies are losing customers because they aren’t adequately addressing customer problems in key touchpoints in the journey. Your people may be good at engaging your customers in the moments you’ve designed for them to engage. But you need to find ways to go beyond where your teams are engaging your customers by leveraging automation and technology. Companies are learning that they can lean on automation to better inform and communicate along that customer journey.

The balance between automation and personal engagement is crucial in how you address and scale your customer interactions to ensure both your automation methods and your people interactions don’t get overwhelmed while still meeting your customers’ expectations. Closing the loop is essential, but mapping out each point in the customer journey will be difficult if you rely on manual processes alone.

Are you concerned that you don’t have the tools and process for closing the loop with customers? Don’t worry — you aren’t alone. Forrester reports that 61% of companies have no engrained process to truly close the loop. Winners and losers will be determined by their ability to close the feedback loop and communicate with customers about their feedback. Winners will turn their concern into a competitive advantage.

Begin Your Customer Journey Map

Hubspot defines the customer journey map as “a visual representation of a customer’s experience with a company.” The goal is to provide an understanding of the needs and concerns of potential customers which directly motivate or inhibit their actions. “This information allows companies to boost customer experience leading to higher conversion rates and improved customer retention.”
A customer journey map includes the buying process, user actions, emotions, pain points, and solutions. It also needs to include closed loop feedback systems when you are engaging your customers through feedback. As you might expect, the journey is rarely linear, but leaders can look at their data to evolve where and how they engage their customers in feedback and how to close the loop with them (thus accelerating the buying process).

Imagine a whiteboard. On the left side is complete unawareness. On the right side is customer advocacy and repeat purchases. Your customer journey is what occurs between those two points.

Begin with the information you know. Start plotting out key milestones along the journey, along the spectrum from awareness to engagement to purchase. The key question to address is: What data, process, and technologies do you have at your disposal that can help you close the loop with customers?

Use Data to Flesh out your Customer Feedback Journey

Most companies can start with the purchase experience. What typically goes wrong that inhibits conversion? What are the details around a successful purchase? Plot out the purchase process, along with positive and negative interactions that typically occur.

Then, start to break out your journey by persona. How does the customer journey vary for different types of consumers? Define your personas by their goals and begin to plot different paths to purchase via persona.

Expand to other touchpoints beyond purchase. Consider where your customers tend to interact with the company before and after purchase. Who impacts these touchpoints at the company? What data can you pull from these interactions?

Customer surveys are typical examples of feedback milestones. Consider when the customer is willing and able to interact with your company during their journey. Now, how are you positively impacting those milestones? How do you close the loop for each survey?

Automate Parts of your Customer Feedback Journey

Stress-test your customer journey map. Interview real customers and determine if your map accounts for all or most of the various milestones in their journey. Change and iterate on your customer journey map. This living document can and should change over time as your processes mature.

Finally, consider where automation could alleviate manual processes within your customer journey. For instance, perhaps you work at one of the 61% of companies without a formal process for closing the loop, as cited in the Forrester study. Would automated communications at key milestones help improve your ability to convert a prospect to a customer? Would automated messages to promoters prompt great reviews? Could following up with a customer on their survey response take a detractor from a negative view to a more positive one by making them feel more heard and thus valued?

These are all ways in which automation can help your team close the loop with your customers in a way that puts it into a systematic framework.
Remember that closing the feedback loop can greatly reduce customer churn. So, consider ways you can automate feedback with the end goal of producing happier customers.

Closing the loop with customers and employees isn’t impossible. But it does require a hard look at your customer journey map and the automation you have available to improve that customer journey. (Hubspot has a great list of sample journey maps.)

Closed Loop Feedback is the Answer

Automation is a powerful tool that can empower your team to scale their CX efforts. But automation is more than canned response to surveys. Consider your customer journey. Are there milestones along that journey you would like to influence?
Wherever those milestones occur — in-store, in-app, online — you have the opportunity to positively influence the customer journey. Automation can help you scale your efforts.

Automation opens the possibility of more personalized CX activities, empowering you to close the loop with customers. Closing the loop makes customers feel heard. When they feel heard, customers feel valued. Feeling valued by a company helps customers see themselves in that business. In that way, closing the loop is essential for any CX effort devoted to making customers feel heard, which then reduces churn.

Closing the loop can be difficult. Our own research finds that companies fail to close the loop for a variety of reasons, including complexity, lack of resources, and cost. All of these challenges can be overcome.

Investigate ways you can leverage automation to enhance your team’s ability to close the loop with customers at key points in the customer journey. Starting is often the most difficult part. The best place to start is to pick a specific moment that matters and go from there.
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