In this three-part series, we deep dive into Customer Journey Maps (CJM) - a super useful tool for understanding your customers' biggest problems and how to solve them. In today's article, you will learn the basics of what a CJM is and how you can use it.
The key to creating business value is to develop a compelling customer value proposition that delivers real value. Truly understanding the needs and preferences of customers, as well as their behaviour along the customer journey, is essential to you achieving a successful business strategy.
The term customer experience is commonly associated with how customers interact with a business and its services on a transactional level, at each interaction or touchpoint. In response, many organisations structure each department’s responsibilities towards specific interactions with customers, and accountability falls to them for any issues that arise. It seems a sensible approach, and a growing number of companies are working hard to keep customers happy in this way, with each department striving to provide a quality product alongside excellent sales and post-sale customer service.
The challenge with this method of managing customer interactions is that it’s disjointed. The customer’s experience, when divided up across departments and individual touch-points, misses the bigger, overall picture: the customer’s end-to-end journey and holistic experience across your entire organization.
By taking their customer’s viewpoints and walking with them through their journey, businesses can begin to understand and empathise with what their customers truly value and learn how to best unlock this value (and improve their service) in future.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
Have you ever tried to list the range of services your organisation offers? Do you ever struggle to articulate exactly what it offers? Does your organisation talk a lot about ‘putting customers first’, or ‘keeping them at the heart of your service delivery’ but you’re not sure what this means? What do these ‘throw away’ phrases mean to a real customer interacting with your organisation across multiple customer touchpoints?
Say hello to your new pal, Customer Journey Maps! Or CJM's for short. Below is sections of a customer journey map template.
Simply put, a Customer Journey Map tells the story of your customer’s experience from their first interaction with the organisation through to the end. It allows you to understand the various customer touchpoints, how the average customer interacts with your business, what a customer needs are and how different pain points affect customer experiences. The customer research insights are then displayed as a visual representation.
Kerry Bodine, author of 'Outside-In' says that “Journey maps are diagrams that visualise the actions, thoughts, and feelings of a person or group over time.” To create a customer journey that your customers will fondly remember, you need to stand in the customer's shoes and view the existing customer experience strategy. Every customer's journey is different so a one size fits all approach will not work. You need to conduct research a number of times so that you truly understand each customer's perspective. Only then do you have the information to design an improved experience they will truly value.
What do Customer journey maps help your company achieve?
The benefits of customer journey mapping are multifaceted. Some benefits include:
Shift company perspective
A customer journey map can help you understand your organisation’s internal happenings and their external impact. You’ll refocus from inside-out to outside-in.Break down silos - CJMs make collaboration and communication within internal business units inevitable. This leads to better alignment of customer goals and helps create a united plan of attack to work towards them.
A lack of accountability along touchpoints creates inconsistencies in service, ultimately diminishing the customer’s experience. CJMs assign tasks to the right staff and keep everyone in the organisation working towards the same target (happier customers!).
A customer journey map is essentially a heat map of where customers are receiving good quality attention. Once you understand how and why you can use this information to discover newer ways to appeal to a wider audience or customer base.
Help understand the numbers
CJMs help to uncover the why (qualitative) behind the what (quantitative data) for specific metrics. For example: What has caused the drop in mobile app downloads?
Why do customer journey maps work?
If you look at any customer journey mapping examples you will notice a few things. Customer journeys can be long, stretching across multiple channels and touchpoints, and span over days, weeks, even months. Interactions could include your customer onboarding process, problem resolution in the contact centre, how customer enquiries are handled and how quickly calls are answered. Your business may not know exactly what those problems are without mapping the buyer journey.
A customer journey map works because it allows you to create multiple journey maps, reflecting the individual paths a customer takes. Creating one requires you to perform detailed customer research that leads to compelling customer-centric stories that can be visualised along the journey.
A customer journey map also helps identify areas of friction, creates empathy, and really does keep customers at the heart of every interaction during their journey with you. This means that you are not changing the goals of your customer service team to align with the needs of a fictitious customer. In turn, driving more sales and attracting more customers. This ultimately leads to physical and financial business growth.
Why should I start using a customer journey map?
We have shown you that customer journey maps work, but the real question is whether they can be of value to you. If they can be of value that it would be such a waste not to use a customer journey map.
These days the voice of the customer should be the loudest one in any business. The impression you make on each and every customer is of enormous importance. Everyone would then agree that market research is vital. However, when you have so much data it can be difficult to know what to do with it, especially if you are new to the customer experience game.
Customer journey map research is crucial because it allows you to organise your insights in a visually appealing manner. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your team aligned around customer-centric outcomes. The true value of customer journey maps lies in their ability to invoke empathy. They bring real human experiences to light, those that organisations often overlook, whether the experiences of internal staff or external customers. They are also a great tool to provide a clear view of the organisation’s overarching customer strategy.
In our nine years of experience, we have found the main pitfall for organisations is their failure to understand the full context of their customers’ experiences. The flow-on effects of a disjointed end-to-end experience can be dramatic: the reality could be hundreds of calls to the contact centre, increased customer churn, loss of sales, falling staff morale and employee Net Promotor Score (NPS).
At the other end of the spectrum, we have found companies who have nailed the art of customer understanding and prioritising the things they value. These organisations reap the benefits of increased customer satisfaction via positive NPS, increasing sales, reductions in attrition and reduced service costs. They also have happier staff, who feel they are having an impact, changing customers’ lives for the better instead of just being a cog in the wheel.
In Part 2, we will cover the anatomy of the customer journey map templates and the importance of structure.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about Customer Journey Mapping or would like to find out how you can get one for your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more detailed information and pricing.