We recently decided to add a new service to our product line, but first we tried to simulate a typical customers’ experience using a customer journey map. The result was quite interesting as this simulation offered us the opportunity of following the customer every step of the way through our various service delivery offerings. By carrying out that research, we were able to see our company through a customer’s eyes; we were also able to document the customer’s emotions every step of the way. What is a customer journey map and how can it help the business analyst improve an organisation’s delivery method?

The Bible says “where there is no vision, the people perish”. Simply put, you cannot succeed at what you haven’t visualized.

Journey mapping helps you visualize how your customers experience your product or service, and how they feel along the way. In journey mapping, you put yourself in your customers’ shoes in order to understand what their experience will be at each stage of their journey from enquiry to purchase (and even evangelism).

Having a journey map is crucial for a number of things like
• ensuring your products/services are relevant and your business is customer-centric,
• properly positioning to connect with your target audience,
• having solid insights guiding your decisions and strategies.

People will never forget experiences; they always remember how they felt when they came in contact with you…even beyond what they bought from you. Salesforce reported that 80% of customers consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products. Your goal is to ensure that beyond having a stellar product, the experiences in between make the customers feel great.

So, let’s get right to it!

A customer journey map is a visual storyline that showcases every engagement a customer will have with a service, brand, or product. The creation of a journey map helps you see and understand your processes, needs, and perceptions from the customer’s point of view.

A journey map lays out all the touchpoints that your customer will potentially have with your business– from how they first hear of you through marketing/advertising (whether it’s social media, word of mouth, flyers, etc) to their direct interactions with your product, website, or customer service team – and includes all of the actions your customer takes to complete their objective across a period of time.

During the process of mapping, you get to answer these questions
• How do they feel when they can’t get in touch with customer service on an issue they’re experiencing? Or, if their package doesn’t arrive on time? How can these issues be resolved?
• Is my online interface user-friendly and matching customer expectations? Can they navigate easily? Can they see the relevant buttons?
• What kind of questions would they have when they’re in the process of deciding to buy? How can we ensure these questions are answered in a timely manner?

Put yourself in the shoes of the customer by remembering different experiences you’ve had as a customer of brands you’ve purchased goods and services from. Think of what worked and what didn’t; what you absolutely loved and what irked you. Look at your processes, website, products, etc through this “lens” to see what their journeys could be like.

Understanding the customer from an empathetic, bird’s eye view at each stage means having deeper insight into their needs at every point so you can improve the relevant processes to meet their expectations.

So, how does customer journey mapping actually work?
There’s no right or wrong way to create a customer journey map. You just need to make sure it is aligned with your own business and services. Bear in mind that customer journeys are never linear; this is because buyers often take a back and forth, cyclical, multi-channel journey. This makes customer journey mapping difficult to accurately visualize.

Start by creating your customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional character that represents your average customer based on user and market research. Imagine their ages, job functions, personal goals, demographics, etc. This helps you step into the customer’s shoes and properly develop and document their journey story.

Start by creating, at most, three personas and develop them, make them as real as possible. What are they looking for? What stage of life are they in? How will your product/service be relevant to them? Etc. These questions must be asked and answered

Next, you will need to decide what is relevant to you… what goal are you trying to achieve with this mapping process. Do you want to revisit your current customer success processes or create new experiences through the selling timeline? You get to choose and adapt. Identify the elements you want your map to show. Your journey maps should evolve over time to meet your business needs.

Then, Identify touchpoints. A touchpoint is any moment a customer interacts with your business. From social media posts, to the receipt they receive after a purchase, includethese touchpoints within your map so you can collect feedback and identify patterns on how they’re feeling at each interaction.

Touchpoints include
• all the places on your website that your customers can interact with you.
• Social media accounts (comments section or DMs)
• Paid ads
• Emails
Think of what your customers would expect and prefer at each touch point.

Clearly state the the different stages of interactions. Every time your customer engages with your brand, there is a goal-driven action behind it. Break down the customer journey in stages of interaction based on the customer’s needs.

Identify the resources you currently have and the ones you’ll need. Every part of your business is relevant to your custom journey map. So, it’s important to take inventory of what you have and what you’ll need to improve the customer’s journey.

For example, maybe your map highlights some flaws in your customer service process and you notice that your team is lacking in the relevant knowledge. Using your map, you can identify this need and sort it out.

Make it Visual. You can use Excel sheets or put them in Infographics or graphic designs. Also, there are digital tools for this purpose with some of them offering free trials.

Make the relevant changes. The essence of the journey mapping exercise is to optimize your processes. Ensure that the things that need to be changed, tweaked, aligned, removed are done. Multiple reviews will be required to ensure this is successfully done.

Finally, ensure your mapping is research driven. Feel free to get feedback from your existing customers on their experiences at different touchpoints and remember, a journey map is not a final document, it is a draft that can be altered every now and then depending on the experience of your customers. Work with your marketing team.


[image credit: The Making of a Millionaire]