As we stated in our last blog post “What is the customer journey and why does it matter?” there are numerous benefits to mapping your customer journeys. It’s the best way to get inside the minds of your customers and see your business from their perspectives.
Creating customer journey maps identifies all of your touch points as well as your consumer needs. It highlights the difference between your desired and actual customer experience.
The customer journey begins the moment they first interact with your brand, continues through the support they receive after making a purchase, and hopefully extends beyond as they become a loyal client. The different ways this happens are diverse, and depend on a number of factors.
Whether they found you through social media, word of mouth, organic search, direct search, or some other means, each consumer will go through multiple, varied steps on their journey. This isn’t something you can assume coming from an internal viewpoint. Therefore, the best way to understand your customer’s journeys is to simply ask them.
Following up every sale with a survey, feedback form, or personalised email will give you valuable insight into how your buyers developed from strangers to customers. Once you have a solid understanding of your customer journeys, it’s time to map them out.
Creating a diagram that conveys the steps someone takes from awareness to purchase will provide your entire company with a valuable resource that focuses your marketing, concentrates your sales efforts, and increases efficiency in your product or service development.
The customer journey is rarely linear. Consumers are doing a lot of research before committing, and often will reach out to businesses to get a better idea of whether their product or service will solve their problem effectively. Thus, visualising the map can be quite tricky.
There are a number of different methods you can use. The most important thing to keep in mind is to create a map that makes sense to the people who will be using it.
We’ll walk you through the process, one step at a time, so that you can use this blog as a guide to creating your own customer journey maps for your business. Here are the 7 steps it takes to create a comprehensive map:
- Define precise goals for the map
- Conduct research on actual customer experiences
- Create buyer personas and define each of their goals
- Detail all touchpoints before, during and after the sale
- Label each element you want your map to show
- Take the customer journey yourself
- Analyse, acknowledge shortcomings, improve, and repeat
Let’s break down it down step by step:
1. Define precise goals for the map
Why are you making this map? Who will be using it? Whose experience is it based on? Whether you write them in a notebook, hang them on the wall, or type them up on your laptop, by documenting the primary objectives of your map you will keep yourself focused on improving your customer experience.
2. Conduct research on actual customer experiences
Once you’ve set your objectives, it’s time for the most crucial step: research. Accurate data provides the foundation of your map. There are various methods you can use to collect this data. HubSpot’s Customer Feedback Tool is a comprehensive way to collect and analyse the opinions of your clients. There are many other tools you can use to compile real user experiences, from feedback forms to satisfaction surveys, to direct emails and phone calls. There’s no one right way to conduct your research. In fact, since different people will respond to different methods, you should have multiple means to gather data. Here are some good questions to ask in your research:
- How did you first hear about our company?
- How did you find our website?
- What problems are you trying to solve with our products/services?
- What is your main way of interacting with our brand?
- How long do you typically spend on our website?
- What was the factor that made you choose our company?
- Did you ever decide to not make a purchase from us? If so, what led you to this decision?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how easy is our website to navigate?
- Have you ever required customer support? If so, on a scale of 1 to 10, how helpful was it?
- Do you have any suggestions for how we could make your experience easier or more fulfilling?
3. Create buyer personas and define each of their goals
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your customers. They are based on the results of your research and designate a name, demographics and behaviour to each audience segment. They highlight pain points and common questions they might ask, as well as list the specific goals each audience member is trying to achieve through your company. For more information read our blog post “What are buyer personas?”
4. Detail all touchpoints before, during and after the sale
Touchpoints are the places on your website, in your social media profiles and anywhere else on the web or in person that your customers can interact with your company. Based on your research, compile a list of all the touchpoints your customers are using, and if applicable, create a list of all the touchpoints you think they should be using.
This step highlights the successful and unsuccessful parts of your customers’ journeys and your ability to communicate with them. You should be paying attention to the actions they are taking, the emotions they are feeling, and any obstacles or pain points that they come up against throughout every step of their experience.
5. Choose what you want your map to show
Now that you’ve gathered everything you need to create your customer journey map, it’s time to choose how you’re going to utilise this information. There are 4 types of customer journey maps you can choose from, depending on your goals and the research you’ve conducted.
A. Current state
This is the most common type of customer journey map. It is a visual illustration of actions, thoughts, and emotions that your customers currently experience at each touch point. This is a great way to analyse, change and constantly improve your customer journey.
B. Day in the life
A day in the life map visualises the actions, thoughts and emotions that your customers undergo throughout all the activities they partake in day-to-day, whether it has to do with your company or not. This provides a broader scope of your audience and helps define the pain points they undergo in their daily activities. If you’re looking to solve problems that customers might not be aware of, this is the best type of map for your company.
C. Future state
These types of consumer maps envision the actions, thoughts and emotions you believe a consumer will take for future interactions. This is based on your research and the current customer experience. These work best if you’re looking to define your company objectives.
D. Service blueprint
A service blueprint begins with one of the 3 types of maps listed above, and then you add layers of the things that are responsible for creating that portion of the experience. This includes people, technology, policies and your business processes. This is a great way to identify the root of negative and positive portions of your customers’ journeys.
6. Take the customer journey yourself
Now it’s time to experience your journey yourself and analyse the results. Ask yourself:
- Where are people exiting the journey?
- What is making them abandon before purchase?
- How can you provide better support to potential and current customers?
Follow the customer journey map for each of the buyer personas you’ve created to better understand your customers.
7. Analyse, acknowledge shortcomings, improve, and repeat
Now that you have the map in front of you, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Look at all of the pain points and brainstorm ways to alleviate them. Implement these changes and retake the journey.
Your map should be constantly changing and improving, and every time you make a change, ask your customers about the new experience.
Creating accurate customer journey maps is a long and detailed process. However, the insights you gain from creating these resources will improve your customer experience, which leads to happier clients and ultimately higher profits.
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