How does one build a great customer experience? It all comes down to its building blocks: a great product or service to start with (a good value proposition, essentially), expertise (business, design, technical) and information. In fact, as cliche as it sounds: information is power, especially in business.
Fortunately, many companies and organisations already know the importance of data and pay attention to collecting, analysing, and drawing conclusions from it. But there’s a different issue with their efforts: the dispersion and atomisation of various data sources within an organisation. The expertise and product ideas need to be guided with relevant and precise data.
There is valuable information (on existing customers, business processes and trends) gathered by every department of every company. There’s nothing wrong with that - but these data sets are rarely compiled, compared or analysed together. In other words, even if relevant data exists across the organisation, there’s no common denominator, no overall vision for it.
Without a shared bigger picture, all departments gather information based on their subjective needs, without thinking of the company as a whole. Not to mention that scattered data is quite difficult to access and interpret for other parts of the organisation. This, in turn, means that the collected data has no prognostic value and often goes to waste.
That’s precisely why it matters to organise your data and have one, full “source of truth” about your customers. Customer journey mapping is one of the tools that can help you create that single source of truth, which can be easily updated with new information in the future.
The customer experience you offer shouldn’t suffer because of the lack of organisational structure and the single source of truth. That’s precisely what can be avoided with customer journey mapping. A proper customer journey map aims to visualise the overall experience with your organisation from the customer’s perspective and help you organise your data along the way so that you can make the most of it.
It might not seem like it at first, but it can actually become a tangible framework for any customer experience initiatives you might have in mind. In fact, nearly 90% of those who leveraged customer journey mapping noticed a positive impact on their organisation, mostly in terms of increased customer satisfaction. It’s not the only benefit of customer journey maps, though.
Customers have multiple touchpoints and means of contact with your business. Be it search engines, social media, digital ads, customer support and points of sale - all touchpoints matter.
Therefore, in order to ensure satisfying customer experience, you have to take all touchpoints into account and design the customer’s journey around and within them. Customer relations are not built via one channel, in one particular moment. Oftentimes, such interactions are happening on multiple channels simultaneously, and also developing with time. For a single shopping process to be completed, it might take even 10 days and various devices and tools - computers, mobile devices, online stores, social networks, and many others.
If you don’t meet customer expectations at every point of their journey, you’re likely to lose customers along the way. With customer journey mapping, however, you can take into account every touchpoint and ensure a proper experience once you’re at it.
Based on the research performed by a consulting firm Walker, customer experience is a deciding factor when it comes to choosing brands or products nowadays. Its importance will only grow with time. Given that modern customers are aware of what the best solutions tailored to their needs are - it’s hardly surprising that they expect more from your business in terms of acknowledging their needs and offering seamless customer experience. Actually, according to Walker, companies must know their customers inside out to even stay competitive.
That might be one of the reasons why increasingly more companies decide to invest in getting to know their customers - their needs, pain points, and plans for the future. By treating customer experience as a strategic initiative, these companies are likely to position themselves for future success.
Understanding the importance of customer experience and putting more effort into getting to know one’s customers is one thing. Delivering a seamless experience, though, is a different story. Luckily, customer journey mapping can lay the groundwork for more meaningful interactions with your business.
Proper customer experiences stem from relationships that your business has with all clients. Ensuring them, therefore, means having meaningful interactions with each and every one of them. Especially since these interactions are likely to be dictated by your customers.
Even though B2C and B2B customers are different, they have a few things in common (apart from raising awareness and expectations):
Customers expect businesses to know their needs. They want personalised experiences, and they’re not likely to trust companies that are unable to provide them.
Customers won’t come to your business. It’s your job to “show up”, knowing what their current and future needs are.
Customer interactions happen on their terms. Your customers are the ones who shape the whole experience and choose channels for all interactions, be it via mobile, social networks, or in person.
What does it mean for your business? The only way to go is to adapt to your customers. However, at the same time, businesses need predictability. That’s why many companies invest in business models that can help them foresee their customers’ behaviour in the future. Without data analysis, these models are unlikely to succeed.
Chances are, you already have plenty of relevant data at your disposal. Why not have it all organised in the form of a customer journey map to create the ultimate source of knowledge about your customers — at every step of their journey?
With customer journey maps, it’s easier to assess whether your customers find their journey straightforward, or encounter any issues when going from one touchpoint to another. For example, you can see if your customers are able to connect with sales & customer support via live chat easily or seamlessly switch into the voice channel while using the mobile app.
These are just a few use cases, though - with customer journey mapping, you can get insights into how satisfied your customers are with the experience, and what they are feeling every step of the way. This can help you improve the overall experience and tackle any issues that might cause frustration throughout their journey.
Customer journey maps reveal issues not only from the customer perspective but also from where your employees stand. To start with, those employees who are in direct contact with your customers (via live chat, phone, or physical stores and showrooms) know exactly what motivates them and what issues they encounter. At the same time, they can also identify internal processes, practices and blockers that make their jobs more difficult and have an impact on the quality of service they provide.
When talking about customer experience, people often think in terms of interfaces: apps and websites. But customer-brand interactions take place in every touchpoint and at all areas of customer-brand interaction, not only “at the checkout” (the purchase) phase. Delivering consistent customer experience is key to satisfied customers and a successful business.
Customer journey maps can help discover the gaps and shortages in all areas of business, including customer service. Let’s follow an exemplary journey to see what it means in practice:
The customer visits your website but is not able to find the information he needs.
He calls your helpline to obtain it and gets a few more details on your offer. He needs some time to consider it, though.
A few days later, as he’s passing by a physical point of sale, he decides to take you up on the offer he received via phone.
This time, though, he can’t take advantage of this particular offer, simply because it’s not available in-store.
That’s the customer service gap at its best. There’s at least one more example to take into account on this occasion, though: Younger generations (so-called digital natives), who are using smartphones to fulfil most of their needs.
If you’re not using the mobile channel, such customers will go to a physical point of sale (in the best-case scenario, that is). The result? The customer experience is worse for everyone: all customers have to wait longer in-store, which also affects the effectiveness and satisfaction of your employees who have to serve more customers than necessary. In the worst-case scenario, though, they will simply turn to your competitors who are using their favourite channel in the first place.
A customer journey map is like a having a good plan at hand (or a map, essentially): it makes it possible to thoroughly outline and streamline tasks and activities in your organisation. Since all parts of your company are interconnected, you can focus on functions and processes that matter most.
The end result is not only increased customer satisfaction, but also tangible savings and earnings for your organisation. To give you an example: according to Aberdeen Group’s research, the customer journey map can make the customer service costs ten times lower. What’s not to like about that?
Lowered costs also have an influence on the company's growth, both in terms of revenue and customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers are unlikely to leave your business, but likely to use its other services and spend more (in fact, the research shows 56% more cross-sell and up-sell revenue thanks to customer journey maps). Nowadays, a customer journey map can easily become the single source of data you need to help optimise marketing & sales efforts.
Satisfied customers are simply better for your PR. And it shows: according to an Aberdeen Group report, creating a customer journey map and a better experience thanks to it drives greater revenue from customer referrals and 24% more positive social media mentions. This also has an impact on employee satisfaction, especially if you pair it with conscious attempts to increase competences, knowledge, and engagement of your team.
It’s no secret that companies who focus on customer experience are more profitable than the competition - and customer journey mapping is a big part of that. By mapping the touchpoints with your company you can easily identify issues your customers might encounter, adjust these touchpoints, and improve their experience along the way to increase customer satisfaction.
Take into account the following customer journey mapping benefits:
54% greater return of marketing investment,
10x improvement in customer service costs,
24% more of positive social media mentions,
3.5x greater revenue from customer referrals,
18x faster average sales cycles, and,
56% more cross-sell and up-sell revenue.
The conclusion? If you’re not aware of your customer journey, you probably don’t know your customers too well. The more complete picture of your customers you have, however, the better for your business. If you’re finally ready to create a customer journey map for your business - we can definitely help you with that.