There’s no escaping the fact that the future of business lies in customer experience. It’s what customers want and have come to expect. If prices and services (or products) are similar, customer experience becomes the determining factor in the buying decision.
“We no longer simply make a purchase and walk away. Consumers seek—and often expect, whether we realize it or not—additional utility from the brands we patronize. We want to feel like they’re listening. We don’t just want the goods or services, but we want an experience to sweeten the deal” (Newman, 2015).
To provide the best services it can, an organization needs to empathize and understand its customers or users. The necessary understanding can be visualized by customer journey maps.
A customer journey map is a visual depiction of the sequences of events a customer or user goes through to complete a specific task. The map is the journey – think narrative—a persona takes to complete a task (e.g., buying a bicycle or booking a vacation). It is taking a persona—say John—and telling the story of how he buys a bicycle for his ten-year-old son, Denny.
The journey map includes John’s motivation, and how he’s feeling during each stage of the process and across multiple touch points. It should illustrate performance indicators (e.g., a graph with positive, neutral and negative emotions). Including his feelings and expectations establishes the context of John’s purchasing experience. This allows the bike shop (or organization) to pinpoint opportunities to improve John’s experience and these opportunities should be incorporated in the map. Including all of John’s actions, thoughts, feelings, and expectations with opportunities to enhance his experience will keep the entire team focused on the user, John, and provide the best service possible for his scenario. This is the essence of user-centered design.
The ingredients of a Journey Map
- Personas (John from our example above)
- A timeline
- Emotions (e.g., illustrates frustration points)
- Touchpoints (interactions with an organization)
- Channels (where the interactions happen, e.g., instore or website).
David Myron, the Editor-in-Chief of ProSales, explains the benefits of journey maps: “customer journey maps can help managers and employees acquire a visual understanding of an organization’s customer experience landscape, which can help them connect the dots, better appreciate customer concerns and problems at a given moment, identify disconnected areas on the journey, bolster customer empathy, and generate ways to improve customer experiences” (Myron, 2016).
Research from the Aberdeen Group backs the effectiveness of journey maps “Focusing on the customer journey yields 55 percent more revenue from cross-selling and 250 percent more revenue from customer referrals” (Newstex, 2017).
The benefit is derived from its insight into customer service. “According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A study from NewVoiceMedia indicates that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. There isn’t an industry or company that can afford to not understand their customers and the experience being delivered to them” (McKnight, 2017).
Gathering the data
With empathy as a driving force behind quality journey maps, it is important to include qualitative data and anecdotes:
“Many companies today use ethnographic research to gain deeper insights into the patterns and untapped needs of their customers. They do so because they need in-depth insight into how consumers behave in the moment in order to find new jobs to get done. A well-executed ethnographic study should identify the foundational jobs to get done, the key moments in the customer experience, and models of consumer behavior that explain why both are important to the customer” (Norton & Pine, 2013).
Even in the absence of an ethnography, social media can be a viable source of stories. Surveys and call recordings are also good options. Frontline personnel, people who most interact with customers, can be an invaluable source for unearthing customer attitudes and finding nuggets/anecdotes to construct journey maps.
Quantitative data is usually a simpler matter; most organizations already gather web analytics and interactions that can be used to help craft accurate journey maps.
Journey Maps help organizations empathize with their customers and provide them with direction, insight, and opportunities to improve customer experience. A well-constructed map can be a competitive advantage in customer experience—that is only going to be more important as the economy moves more towards an experience economy.
Boag, P. Customer journey mapping: Everything you need to now. Retrieved from https://www.sailthru.com/marketing-blog/written-customer-journey-mapping-need-to-know/
Goddard, P., & Hoski, K. 5 essential components of effective customer journey maps. Retrieved from https://www.tandemseven.com/journey-mapping/5-essentials-for-customer-journey-maps/
Grocki, M. (2014, September 16). How to create a customer journey map. Retrieved from https://uxmastery.com/how-to-create-a-customer-journey-map/
I2 mag: 4 steps to map A satisfying customer journey that boosts your revenue. (2017).
McKnight, C. (2017). Customer journey maps: A path to innovation and increased profits. Econtent, 40(6), 20-21. Retrieved from http://libraryproxy.quinnipiac.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libraryproxy.quinnipiac.edu/docview/1973344134?accountid=13381
Myron, D. (2016, Sep 2016). Should you create A customer journey map? Customer Relationship Management, 20, 2. Retrieved from http://libraryproxy.quinnipiac.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libraryproxy.quinnipiac.edu/docview/1825194077?accountid=13381
Newman, D. (2015, November 24). What is the experience economy, and should your business care? Forbes Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2015/11/24/what-is-the-experience-economy-should-your-business-care/#58c42bd61d0c
Norton, D. W., & Pine, B. J. (2013). Using the customer journey to road test and refine the business model. Strategy & Leadership, 41(2), 12-17. doi:10.1108/10878571311318196